Latest Stories

Legarda faces 2nd graft complaint



Sen. Loren Legarda on Monday faced a second graft charge in the Office of the Ombudsman—this time for allegedly using a shell company to hide her ownership of a multimillion-peso Balinese-inspired mansion in Forbes Park, the swank village of the rich and famous in Makati City.

In the complaint for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, public interest advocate Louis “Barok” Biraogo accused Legarda of not declaring the mansion in her statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) from 2007 to 2011—an offense that led to the ouster of Chief Justice Renato Corona a year ago.

On paper, the Forbes property is owned by Loren Legarda and Associates Inc. (LLAI), a public relations firm that has “no employees, no operations, no business activities and no transactions” since its establishment by the senator in 1986, according to Biraogo.

He said Legarda identified the Forbes mansion at No. 40 Cambridge Circle as her residence in the invitations she sent in hosting a dinner for East Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta in 2009.

In a complaint in the Ombudsman filed on May 6, Biraogo, 53, of Biñan City in Laguna province, accused Legarda of failing to declare in her SALN from 2007 to 2011 a P36-million condominium unit that she purportedly bought in Manhattan, New York City.

Loren denies charges

Asked for comment, Legarda sent a text message insisting that the Forbes property was listed in her SALN.

“It is owned by Loren Legarda and Associates. It is clearly in my SALN,” said Legarda, who also claimed that the US property on Park Avenue was in her official asset declarations.

A check with Legarda’s 2012 SALN submitted on April 30 indicated that the column “real property” only listed a residential apartment located in the “USA” with an acquisition cost of P28.7 million. This ostensibly referred to Biraogo’s first complaint.

Legarda’s SALN has an annex where her “personal and other property” with a total value of P67,481,803 were listed. She indicated in the document that she had shares of stock in LLAI worth P249,600.

“Personal and other property” also included cash on hand and in banks, a motor vehicle, jewelry, antiques and artworks, investments in shares of stock, receivables from advances, private insurance and “real property-USA” earlier disclosed.

Legarda said she also had shares of stock in the Manila Polo Club (P2 million), Tower Club (P350,000) and Bai-A-Labi Corp. (P622,365).

Published admission

The senator, not LLAI, is the true owner of the Forbes mansion, Biraogo insisted in his complaint on Monday, citing her admission to journalist Joanne Rae Ramirez in an interview published on April 28, 2007, in Philippine Star that she owned the mansion.

In that interview, Ramirez asked Legarda whether the mansion was built from her “commission” for a project in Batangas in which her pork barrel fund was used, or whether it was a “gift” from a special someone.

Legarda replied that it was not a gift and that she had “kept my nose clean in my 25 years in television as a journalist and in my six years as senator.”

She also stressed in that interview that she had to borrow money from the bank to partly finance it.

Legarda owns 2,496 of the 2,500 outstanding shares of LLAI, with her father, Antonio Sr., and brothers Edgardo and Antonio Jr., and a certain Ma. Pancrasia Valdez owning just a share apiece, Biraogo said.

He stressed that Legarda owned 99.84 percent of the stock of LLAI, which meant she was not just the majority stockholder and controlling interest holder of LLAI but was practically the owner of LLAI.

“Obviously, LLAI is being used by Legarda as a shell company to conceal her ownership of the Forbes Park property,” he said.

In the two complaints he had filed in the Office of the Ombudsman, Biraogo said Legarda violated Republic Act No. 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials.

‘Mountain of evidence’

He said Section 8 of RA 3019 required a public officer to disclose not just his or her assets and liabilities and the full disclosure of net worth, financial and business interests, financial connections, and the identities of any relatives in the government service.

Biraogo said that Section 1, Article XI, of the 1987 Constitution and Section 2 of RA 6713, otherwise known as the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials, required public officials to lead modest lives.

With Legarda’s self-proclaimed middle-class roots and her P75,000 monthly salary as a senator, Biraogo told reporters she could not have possibly afforded both the New York condominium and the Forbes mansion without “dipping her fingers into public funds.”

“The question is where did Sen. Loren Legarda get the money to buy a Forbes Park mansion, as well as a condo in an exclusive area in Manhattan where the Rockefellers and Trumps also have properties?” Biraogo asked. “From her annual pork barrel fund of P200 million multiplied by her years as an incumbent senator?”

Biraogo said Legarda could no longer claim black propaganda on his part to derail her desire to top the senatorial elections on May 13.

“The elections are now over and the day of reckoning for Lady Corona has come,” Biraogo said. “I will prove to the Ombudsman that there’s a mountain of evidence ready to cascade into an avalanche against Legarda.”

Penalty imprisonment

Biraogo said he was confident the Ombudsman would find probable cause to warrant Legarda’s indictment in the Sandiganbayan.

He pointed out that Legarda’s refusal and failure to declare the Forbes mansion in her 2007-2011 SALNs constituted five violations of Section 8 of RA 6713. Each count of graft prescribes a maximum penalty of five years in prison or a total of 25 years.

According to Biraogo, Citizen BAROK advocates, including cause-oriented lawyers, were considering filing charges against Legarda’s father and two brothers for possible connivance with the senator in hiding her immense wealth from government and public scrutiny.

He said the group’s members in the United States could also file a complaint against Legarda for perjury and violations of the US Property Codes for declaring there she was the sole owner of the New York condominium while declaring in the Philippines she was just a co-owner of the property with her father and brothers.

Charges of tax evasion against Legarda and her relatives are likewise being contemplated, Biraogo said.

In the case of Edgardo Legarda, charges may be filed with Singaporean banking regulators and the company that employs him, the Singaporean Development Bank, for his alleged role in hiding his sister’s wealth as a dummy in LLAI, Biraogo added.—With a report from Cathy Yamsuan

Originally posted: 9:12 pm | Monday, May 27th, 2013

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: Crime , Graft and Corruption , graft charge , hidden wealth , law and justice , liabilities and networth , Loren Legarda , Louis "Barok" Biraogo , News , Philippine Senate , Politics , public interest advocate , SALN , Senate , senators , statement of assets , undeclared assets

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
  1. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  2. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  3. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  4. Massive infra spending set
  5. OFW brings MERS virus to Philippines
  6. DOJ to NBI: Arrest Cedric Lee, 4 others
  7. Cardinal Tagle to faithful: Join politics to clean it
  8. Estrada, Gigi Reyes denied access to evidence from other respondents
  9. Thoughts on Holy Week
  10. Lacson’s wife loses diamond earring to thieves but recovers jewelry quickly with police arrest
  1. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  2. MH370 co-pilot made mid-flight phone call – report
  3. Netizens cry: 6/55 Lotto was rigged
  4. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  5. ‘Wife of Jesus’ theory papyrus not fake – Harvard study
  6. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  7. Gay college instructor arrested for oral sex with student
  8. ‘King’ Yabut and I: Driver bares Makati dad ‘abuses’
  9. It was difficult having Japanese blood
  10. Palace: We can’t blame increase in population on Vitangcol
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Pork payoffs to newscasters Erwin Tulfo, Del Prado, others bared
  4. UP back on top as ‘average’ student aces bar
  5. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  6. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  7. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  8. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  9. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  10. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’


  • DOH asks co-passengers of OFW carrier to test for MERS-CoV
  • ‘Shouldn’t we move?’ Ferry evacuation under scrutiny
  • 5.5-magnitude quake hits Sultan Kudarat
  • Passengers denied chance to escape sinking South Korea ferry
  • Firetruck rams California eatery; 15 injured
  • Sports

  • PH youth boxers off to stumbling start in AIBA World tilt
  • Durant has 42, Thunder beat Pistons 112-111
  • Walker leads Bobcats over Bulls in OT, 91-86
  • Man City slips further out of title contention
  • Federer would skip tennis to be with wife, newborn
  • Lifestyle

  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • This is not just a farm
  • Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  • Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  • Entertainment

  • Will Arnett files for divorce from Amy Poehler
  • American rapper cuts own penis, jumps off building
  • Jay Z to bring Made in America music fest to LA
  • Why Lucky has not bought an engagement ring for Angel
  • Derek more private with new girlfriend
  • Business

  • Asia stocks fail to match Wall Street gains
  • Fired Yahoo exec gets $58M for 15 months of work
  • PH presses bid to keep rice import controls
  • PSEi continues to gain
  • Number of retrenched workers rose by 42% in ’13
  • Technology

  • DOF: Tagaytay, QC best at handling funds
  • Smart phone apps and sites perfect for the Holy Week
  • Tech company: Change passwords or suffer ‘Heartbleed’
  • Filling the digital talent gap
  • SSS to shut down website for Holy Week
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Syria most dangerous country for journalists, PH 3rd—watchdog
  • Japan says visa-free entry still a plan
  • First Fil-Am elected to Sierra Madre, Calif. city council
  • UC Irvine cultural night to dramatize clash of values in immigrant family
  • Filipino sweets and info served at UC Berkeley Spring Fest
  • Marketplace