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The great ferry terminal robbery attempt

 Double Dragon Properties, Inc. is reportedly getting ready to mobilize its equipment and workers to start construction of the P135 million Parola Ferry Terminal project at the mouth of the Iloilo River. 

More than a year after the contract was signed between City Mayor Jed Patrick E. Mabilog and Ferdinand Sia, president of Double Dragon, the project proponents are attempting to sweep aside legal questions about the validity, and morality, of the deal.

Work on the project was supposed to start November 2012. But questions I raised about the contract, which were echoed by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Budget and Management, and several lawyers, forced the Mabilog administration to shelve it. Even the 2010-2013 city council, which had originally approved the contract, pulled the rug from under Mabilog’s feet, withdrawing the authority it issued to him to enter into the agreement. 

I also filed a criminal complaint against Mabilog and Double Dragon before the Ombudsman on the ground that the contract is lopsided and grossly disadvantageous to the city government and its taxpayers. The complaint is still undergoing investigation.

The project was already deemed dead in the water. In fact, Mabilog issued a statement in late November that it was no longer his priority.

For strange reasons, the project resurfaced almost on its own (or so it seems). It is now poised to proceed despite the glaring violations of the law. It is overflowing with corruption.

Less than two weeks after Mabilog said the project was no longer a priority, representatives of Double Dragon met with the City Council and explained why the city government was going to get a measly 1% for the first five years, with a 1% increase for every five years after that, until 25 years. The presentation was never disclosed to the public. But it must have been “convincing” enough to make the new set of the City Council to reverse the disavowal made by its predecessor.

The contract is fraught with irregularities that it can be considered the “grand mother of all anomalies” in Iloilo City.

  • The value of the city government’s contribution to the project is being buried alive. In a joint venture, the parties to a project pitch in their equity contributions, whether it be in cash, property or technical expertise. In this case, the value of the 1-hectare property on which the ferry terminal is supposed to be built has a minimum value of P300,000,000 (at a conservative P30,000 per square). On top of this, it was the national government that developed the modern ferry docking facility at the mouth of the Iloilo River known as “Parola”. Filipino taxpayers contributed P126 million for this Parola port. All in all, the government equity in the project is P426 million. So there can be no justification for the income sharing agreement in which the city government will get a measly 1% only for the first five years, 2% for the second five years, with a 1% increase every five years until it reaches 5% for the 20th to 25th years.
  • Second, the ferry terminal complex was given a price tag of P135 million. In case you haven’t noticed, nobody has seen the plans and specifications of the terminal building. How big will the terminal building be? How many floors will it have? What would be the facilities? For all we know, the terminal building will cost only P25 million, or even less! This is big fraud that Mabilog, with the backing of Senate President Franklin Drilon, is about to pull here. It is easy to see that the transaction will guarantee a fat income for Mabilog and Drilon for the next 25 years! This is corruption at its worst.
  • Third, the procurement for this contract did not adhere to the requirements of the law. As I have pointed out more than a year ago, the competitive bidding for Public-Private Partnership (PPP) contracts is governed by Republic Act No. 6957 as amended by Republic Act No. 7718 and its revised implementing rules and regulations. The Mabilog administration formulated its own guidelines by virtue of an ordinance which is not only irregular, illegal and anomalous, but downright ridiculous. Moreover, the project proposal did not undergo review by the National Economic Development Authority.

My sources at City Hall tell me that Mabilog was ordered by Drilon to insist on the project. This was the reason Double Dragon hastily met with the new set of the city council to persuade them to grant Mabilog authority to proceed. The new city council reversed the resolution of its predecessor. It conferred upon Mabilog a legally-infirm authority to go ahead with this anomalous deal.

 
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Ilonggos at the fore

Two big news stories placed Iloilo in the national limelight this week: the first was the appointment of His Excellency, Most Reverend Msgr. Jose Palma of Dingle, Iloilo, as the new Archbishop of Cebu to replace His Eminence, Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, upon his retirement. The other is the buy-out of a 70%-controlling interest of the Ilonggo food chain, Mang Inasal, by the Jollibee Food Corp. for P3 billion.

Ilonggos have always achieved great heights in every field of endeavor. In politics, we have two prominent Senators: Franklin M. Drilon and Miriam Defensor Santiago. In the House of Representatives, 2nd termer Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. (5th district, Iloilo) is emerging as another important political figure with his battle to proceed with the impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.

In business, particularly media, we have the Lopez family-controlled ABS-CBN network and Bombo Radyo Network of Dr. Roger Florete. In the flour business, the Uygongcos are giving the traditional giants stiff competition. Indeed, there is hardly a business, profession or field where an Ilonggo isn’t among the trend-setters. In literature, arts, music, we are also there.

This is yet another moment to feel proud about being an Ilonggo.

The new jueteng lord

Few people have heard about Boy Jalandoni. That’s Julio J. Jalandoni to be exact, married to Sylvia Espino. But his name shot to national prominence on Tuesday morning, Sept. 21, when his name was mentioned as the “jueteng” lord of Bacolod City during the Senate Blue Ribbon investigation into the illegal numbers game. Boy Jalandoni isn’t even from Bacolod City. He grew up in Jaro, Iloilo City and lives in the national capital, with address at 13 Apostol St., San Lorenzo Village, Makati City.

This man has kept a low profile for many years, although a quick check on Internet search engines reveal that he was among the favored few of the Arroyo administration, having been appointed to financially-rewarding positions. He sits on the board of directors of the Philcomsat Holdings Corp. and Philippine National Oil Co.

The search didn’t end there, however. The search engines kept turning out the names “Julio J. Jalandoni/Sylvia E. Jalandoni” on the radar screen. So I plunged deeper. This became a voyage of discovery at how rich (or maybe appear to be rich) the couple have become. Several giant corporations in the country list the couple among their top 100 stockholders, rubbing elbows with corporate securities firms and the super rich of the country. Consider the following:

  • In a disclosure report submitted by Atty. Ma. Caridad Gonzales, corporate secretary and compliance officer of Globe Telecom, Inc. dated July 14, 2009 to the Philippine Stock Exchange, the spouses Julio J. Jalandoni and Sylvia E. Jalandoni are ranked number 62 in the top 100 with 2,500 shares representing 0.0018% of the outstanding stockholdings.
  • Ayala Land Inc. listed the spouses at number 59 with 1,000,000 shares representing 0.0076%.
  • Jollibee disclosed that the couple owns 110,000 shares.

I have little knowledge about the stock market, but I can surmise that these stock holdings are worth in the hundreds of mllions of pesos. How did the couple amass so much wealth? So I dug deeper. From reliable sources, I learned that Julio J. Jalandoni  is a trusted aide of former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo and his brother, the billionaire congressman Iggy Arroyo. He is described as a “bagman” of the former FG. Add one plus one, and you can easily figure out that Julio J. Jalandoni didn’t make all that fortune through hard labor. In fact, in the tradition of Jose Pidal, one can surmise that Julio J. Jalandoni is a “front” for the former FG.

Indeed, such services deserve to be rewarded. And rewarded, Julio J. Jalandoni was. The franchise for the Small Town Lottery (STL) for Bacolod City and Negros Occidental was awarded to him before the end of the Arroyo administration, although he isn’t really from the place. Indeed, it pays to be working for the right people. And recently, sources in the jueteng industry told me that Boy Jalandoni expanded into the more lucrative jueteng operations, with Iggy Arroyo as his patron in Negros Occidental. He is reputed to reap millions every month from this illicit operation.

This is how a little known individual became a national by-word when the Senate Blue Ribbon committee began its probe into jueteng operations. Retired Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz named Boy Jalandoni as the jueteng lord of Bacolod, and when he did, many people asked: “Boy who?”

While Jalandoni’s clout and power was anchored upon the Arroyos, he has his own power-base to lean on now that his patrons are out of power. Boy Jalandoni happens to be the father of Mark E. Jalandoni, deputy ombudsman for Luzon, and the acknowledged right-hand man of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.  This detail helps explain why Mark Jalandoni was appointed to the position over a more senior and better qualified candidate, Roque Dator. Jalandoni had the blessings of FG Mike, and his wife made sure he can perform the role of back-up for the Ombudsman during crunch time.

Meanwhile, the BIR might want to open the bank accounts of Julio J. Jalandoni and his spouse, Sylvia Espino-Jalandoni. The paper trail to the Arroyo plunder could start there. And the Blue Ribbon committee should summon Boy Jalandoni to its next hearing so he can start telling his story about how he became a super-millionaire.