Quantcast
Latest Stories

Loren Legarda accused of hiding wealth

By

Senator Loren Legarda allegedly failed to declare as part of her assets a posh condominium unit on Park Avenue in New York City for four years, and did so only in 2011 just before she and the other senators convened as an impeachment court to try then Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Businessman Louis Biraogo, a self-styled public interest advocate, made the revelation on Thursday at a hastily called press conference, where he accused Legarda of being “as guilty” as the impeached Corona for not declaring all her assets in her statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).

Biraogo also accused Legarda of trying to hide her ownership of a multimillion peso mansion at No. 40 Cambridge Circle in the exclusive Forbes Park in Makati City, registered under Loren Legarda and Associates Inc. (LLAI), and of opting to declare her old family home in Malabon City as her official residence.

“I have the smoking gun needed to prove that Legarda does not deserve to stay a minute longer as a senator of the land,” Biraogo said, presenting before the media copies of the documents he said he obtained “just by searching Google,” and with the help of lawyer friends.

Biraogo said the documents proved that the reelectionist senator, who is leading in most surveys in the midterm elections, paid the “princely price” of $700,000 (about P36 million based on the 2006 exchange rate) for the condo unit at 77 Park Avenue.

He described the location as a “very expensive area in New York City where the Rockefellers and Trumps also have properties.”

Documents provided by Biraogo showed that Legarda bought the 708-square foot single-residential condominium unit 10-B from a certain Frank Feinberg of Wall Street, Seattle, Washington, on May 9, 2006, for $700,000.

But the SALN she filed in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 did not include the lot under her real property assets.

In all four filings, an item in Annex A for real, personal and other property showed her “equity in real property (co-owned with brothers, etc.)” of P7.175 million.

In 2011, however, an item under “Real Property-USA,” appeared in her SALN with the acquisition cost of P28.7 million.

Biraogo said if this was the same Park Avenue property, then Legarda might have undervalued the condominium unit by using the 2011 exchange rate, instead of the 2006 rate.

“Using the peso-exchange rate in 2011 instead of the prevailing rate in 2006 may be another clue that Legarda was already frazzled, dazed and confused even, when she declared that acquisition cost of P27,800,000 (sic),” he said in a press statement.

“What made Legarda declare a piece of US property in her 2011 SALN? Was it because she became very, very afraid that she would be in the same boat as Corona—that her hidden condo unit at 77 Park Avenue would be found out?” Biraogo said.

“Let’s not forget that she filed her 2011 SALN at about the time when the impeachment trial of Corona was already at fever pitch,” he said.

Responding to Legarda’s defense that she listed the US property under Annex A of her SALN in 2007, Biraogo said this was not true.

 

‘Nowhere’

“Annex A is the very instrument of Senator Legarda’s deceit and her circumvention of the strict SALN requirement that all properties must be declared as to their location, acquisition cost and fair market value,” he said.

“Where in Legarda’s SALNs from 2007 to 2011, or in any of their annexes can the words #77 Park Avenue, NYC, be found? The answer is ‘NOWHERE’ because Legarda has never declared the same in the strict manner prescribed by the law.”

At the press conference, Biraogo said he was not singling out Legarda. “It so happened that we only have evidence against her. If we get evidence against other candidates, we will run after them, too.”

He acknowledged that he was connected to a failed movement to convince former Vice President Noli de Castro to run for president in the 2004 elections, but said the public should not jump to conclusions.

“How can there be any connections when Noli has terminated his political career already? And if Noli de Castro is doing this out of vendetta, he should have done it long ago,” Biraogo said.

 

‘Citizen Barok’

Biraogo, 52, said he has a trucking business, T. Biraogo Trucking Corp. based in Biñan, Laguna province, and also engages in the buy-and-sell business. He heads a newly formed “public interest advocacy group” called Citizen Barok that “keeps a watchful eye on government.”

He said he would file graft and corruption, money laundering and perjury charges against Legarda in the Ombudsman to make her accountable for her nondisclosure of the condo unit in the US and a mansion at Forbes Park in Makati.

“Legarda’s propensity to have properties in the neighborhoods of the ultra-rich is also reflected in her being a resident of a mansion at No. 40 Cambridge Circle in Forbes Park, Makati,” he said.

He cited a lifestyle article written by Joanne Rae Ramirez, in which Legarda purportedly confirmed her ownership of the Forbes Park mansion and described it as her “dream home.”

PR firm

“But on paper, the Forbes mansion is owned by Legarda’s PR firm Loren Legarda and Associates Inc. (LLAI), a company which has no real assets, income or known activities related to PR.

“But is it really owned by LLAI?” asked Biraogo. “Loren Legarda owns 99 percent of LLAI, so she is for all intent and purposes the owner of the mansion at No. 40 Cambridge Circle, Forbes Park. Has she declared ownership of the Forbes mansion? Nope,” Biraogo said.

He said LLAI may prove to be Legarda’s own version of the Basa-Guidote Enterprise used by impeached Chief Justice Corona to defend questionable acquisition of properties.

“Will Loren also call on her father and two brothers to testify to save her?” the businessman asked.

Records showed that as early as 2006, LLAI was the registered owner of the mansion in Forbes Park, Biraogo said.

But even though LLAI indicated its ownership of the property in its 2006 tax declaration, Legarda acquired it as early as 2002, he said.

Despite taking actual residence in Forbes Park, Biraogo said Legarda continued to use her family home as her official residence at 48 Dunwoody Street, University Hills, Malabon City.

Cases at SC

Biraogo said he had been a public interest advocate since 1984 when, as a sophomore student at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, where he finished a philosophy degree, he sued then UP President Edgardo Angara all the way to the Supreme Court for hiking tuition and other fees.

He said he filed another suit in the Supreme Court in December 1985 questioning the validity of the snap presidential elections.

Biraogo said he also questioned the election of aliens to Congress (Biraogo vs Nograles), the power of the House of Representatives to propose amendments to the Constitution independently of the Senate (Biraogo vs House of Representatives) and the inaction of the government on the Philippine claim to Sabah (Biraogo vs Del Rosario, G.R. No. 206323), among others.

He said he was also a lead petitioner in the court fight against the anticybercrime law, which Congress passed in 2012.

Biraogo also headed the Kabayan for President Movement.


Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: 2013 elections , Loren Legarda , Renato Corona , SALN , wealthy




Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. Senator’s kickback from pork bigger than those of Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – Lacson
  2. 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  3. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  4. Sandigan junks Marcos family claim to Paoay property
  5. Delfin Lee: Blame Pag-Ibig, not me
  6. Cedric Lee’s cohort flies out of PH despite look-out order – De Lima
  7. San Juan cops fail to arrest Cedric Lee
  8. Maid confesses in killing of 2 and stabbing of employer in Laguna
  9. More ‘Yolanda’ bodies found
  10. Vitangcol to sue Czech envoy
  1. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  2. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  3. Estrada: Gigi Reyes won’t testify vs JPE
  4. Bernice Lee arrested by NBI team
  5. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  6. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  7. Suspect in Vhong Navarro’s mauling wants to turn state witness – De Lima
  8. Reckless driver endangered lives of Aquino, entourage–report
  9. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  10. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  8. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  9. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia
  10. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
Advertisement

News

  • Ex-church leader nabbed for selling drugs
  • Camilla’s brother dies in US after head injury
  • Luisita farmers storm DAR compound
  • Trillanes, Ejercito confident they are not in Napoles’ list
  • Easterlies to prevail in Luzon, Visayas
  • Sports

  • Heat go up 2-0, hold off Bobcats 101-97
  • Ronaldo shakes off injury fears to play Bayern
  • Mavs roll past Spurs 113-92, even series at 1-1
  • Phelps having fun in his return to swimming
  • Murray breaks down in tears at Scottish ceremony
  • Lifestyle

  • Photos explore dynamics of youths’ sexual identity
  • 12th Philippine Food Expo set at the World Trade Center
  • No tourist draw, Malang the croc will remain wild
  • The best flavors of summer in one bite, and more
  • Homemade yogurt, bread blended with pizza, even ramen
  • Entertainment

  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • Sony developing live-action Barbie comedy
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Return of ‘Ibong Adarna’
  • Practical Phytos plans his future
  • Business

  • Facebook profits triple as mobile soars
  • Insular Honors Sales Performers at Testimonial Rites
  • Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock
  • Cost-recovery provisions for affected gencos urged
  • This time, BIR goes after florists
  • Technology

  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Engineers create a world of difference
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • Filipinos in Middle East urged to get clearance before returning
  • PH seeks ‘clearer assurance’ from US
  • China and rivals sign naval pact to ease maritime tensions
  • What Went Before: Manila bus hostage crisis
  • Obama arrives in Tokyo, first stop of 4-nation tour
  • Marketplace
    Advertisement