MANILA, Philppines--Sen Jamby Madrigal said on Friday she was disputing the last will and testament of her late aunt, Consuelo "Chito" Madrigal-Collantes, not because she was left out of it but because the foundation named after her aunt and its thousands of beneficiaries had likewise been shut out.
In a statement a day after formally questioning her aunt's will in court, Madrigal likened the inheritance battle to a telenovela with the elements of "betrayal, wholesale fraud, and probable foul."
"If she gave her whole estate to the foundation, that would have been easier for everyone to accept. But the disinheritance of her own foundation was what made me open my eyes," said Madrigal, who was teary-eyed during a TV interview in which she expounded on her court battle over her aunt's fortune.
The childless Collantes, who died last March 24, made her will in 2006, leaving the bulk of her fortune to her husband, former Foreign Minister Manuel Collantes; Jamby's elder sister Susana; grandnephew Vicente Gustav Warns, and niece Gizela M. Gonzales-Montinola.
"The foundation named after Tita Chito was excluded from the will. Her most cherished causes, her very own foundation was frozen out. If my nephew Gustav Warns stood as the child of Tita Chito, the Foundation is her other child," said Madrigal. "This is not about me and my cousins. It is about robbing the poor to enrich the rich, about betraying family for selfish personal gain."
She insisted that her fight was for the poor families who benefited from the Consuelo Chito Madrigal Foundation.
"Never in her life would she have signed on to such a callous document, so careless of the feelings of not only her kin, but the causes she valued. If it turns out I am the recipient of any legacy from Tita Chito, I am making it of record that I would immediately turn over any such legacy to the Consuelo Madrigal Foundation, in full, and without any conditions," said Madrigal.
Her relatives claimed that Madrigal was excluded from the will because she got her share in advance in the form of a P100-million contribution from her aunt for her senatorial campaigns in 2001 and 2004.
But Madrigal clarified: "Tita Chito is a prudent businesswoman who will not throw away money that lightly. Politics for her is not a reason to gamble on one's fortune. The fact is, there is no campaign, not even for the presidency, where a contributor will give as much as P100 million. She did help me but she laid down clear rules on my spending and she only lent me what I needed. Why only a loan? So that it will be clear that politics is not just for kicks. If I lose, I am obliged to pay her."
Madrigal's lawyers claimed that Chito Madrigal's declared assets in her will were "grossly undervalued" and there were properties excluded from the will such as a $15 million apartment in New York City; paintings (including a Chagall, by various Filipino masters, and a sketch by Jose Rizal); a $3-million helicopter; jewelry, and personal deposits in local and international banks.
"Conservatively, it has been said that the estate of Chito Madrigal can feed eight million Filipinos with rice for two months, provide education to 200,000 scholars and build 40,000 classrooms," said Madrigal's lawyers.