Purisima invites media to his ‘ordinary house’
MANILA, Philippines–He invited reporters to see the 4.7-hectare property in San Leonardo town, one of the subjects of a plunder complaint filed against him in the Office of the Ombudsman.
It’s not a mansion, it’s not a villa, it’s just an “ordinary house.” But come and enjoy a swim in the pool.
Philippine National Police Chief Director General Alan Purisima tried to explain his controversial property in Nueva Ecija province at a news conference in Camp Crame, Quezon City, on Thursday, belying media reports that he lived a luxurious lifestyle by releasing pictures that showed the house is not a mansion and the swimming pool is not Olympic-size.
Purisima said the description of the property in media reports as a “luxurious estate” was wrong.
“It’s not a mansion. It’s an ordinary house that we improved bit by bit over the years,” Purisima said.
The property came to light after ABS-CBN showed an aerial view of the compound, which included a pool and at least three separate structures.
Purisima said anchor Ted Failon described the property as “luxurious, with several buildings,” and his house “as a mansion, a villa.”
“After that, other known TV journalists like Noli de Castro, Alvin Elchico, Vic Lima, Karen Davila, Anthony Taberna and Gerry Baja started calling the house a mansion. As a result, even the senators in [last Tuesday’s] hearing fully believed that my house in Nueva Ecija is a mansion,” he said.
“The problem with an aerial shot is that you can’t see what’s underneath. That was the error in how my property was presented. They said there were many structures just because there were several roofs,” he said.
Property in details
Purisima, who came prepared with a PowerPoint presentation showing photos of the property at ground level, explained what the various structures were, starting with the main house.
“The total floor area of my house is only 204 square meters … Its market value, which has appreciated over the years, is P2,337,900. On that alone, you can see it’s far from being a mansion or a villa,” he said.
The other structures and their value as determined by the Nueva Ecija assessor’s office, he said, were a thatched gazebo worth P17,890; a garage worth P52,630, and guardhouse-cum-guesthouse worth P510,420.
Purisima belied the media description of the swimming pool as “Olympic-size.”
“It’s only 7.5 meters by 15 meters. This is not even 10 percent of the size of an Olympic swimming pool,” he said.
But he invited reporters to come and see the place and try the pool.
Purisima also showed photos to belie news reports that the fence is taller than an average person’s height.
In a hearing called by the Senate committee on public order on Tuesday, Purisima testified that the property’s market value was P3.7 million.
He said he acquired the property in 1998 for only P150,000, and started improving it in 2002 using his savings.
His detractors have accused him of understating the property’s value.
Enemies seeking revenge
Purisima blamed the “tenacious, rabid” attacks on him involving his alleged “hidden wealth” on unnamed enemies seeking revenge on him.
“As I told the Senate, we have filed many complaints against criminals, and even former officials of the PNP. That is why a lot of people are angry [with] me and want to take revenge by destroying my name,” Purisima said.
Purisima also admitted to having another property in Nueva Ecija’s capital city Palayan, which he said he acquired cheap from local farmers.
When asked if he declared the property in his financial disclosure, Purisima could only say he was “not sure.”
The news conference ended after only 15 minutes, as Purisima had to leave for a meeting with President Aquino in Malacañang.
Aquino still trusts him
In the Palace, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma told reporters that President Aquino still had confidence in Purisima.
Coloma said that on the eve of Purisima’s appearance in the Senate, the police chief met with Aquino and was told to “reveal the whole truth” about the charges against him, particularly his finances.
“And we saw that when he appeared in the Senate hearing, he responded to all questions,” Coloma said, following up the statement of presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda on Wednesday that Purisima answered the senators’ questions “truthfully.”
Among the issues raised against Purisima in the hearing was the impropriety of accepting a donation of P11 million for the renovation of his official residence in Camp Crame last year.
Purisima said the donation was not made to him but to the PNP, which is the owner of the house. He said his successors would also use the house and that the donor, Ulticon Builder Inc. (UBI), was not a supplier of the PNP.
On Thursday, Ulticon issued a statement signed by company vice president Susan R. Quintans confirming the donation.
Quintans said the donation was made in 2013 but the formal deed of donation was executed only on Sept. 3, 2014, by UBI president Carlos Gonzales “in favor of the Philippine National Police duly represented by its head Chief PNP Alan Purisima.”
UBI confirmed that it had no previous or pending financial or business transaction with the PNP.
“In making the donation, UBI merely intended to contribute to a worthy project of the PNP and in keeping with the demands of corporate social responsibility,” Quintans said.
“The donation was not in any way intended to influence or secure any pending or future business or financial transaction with the PNP,” she said. “This is clearly reflected in the warranty clause of the deed of donation itself, which expressly states that ‘the donor has no business interest in the PNP and [does] not intend to or expect to have a business relationship with the PNP.’”
“In line with the adherence to corporate social responsibility, UBI is committed to live up to the cited written undertaking to renounce any future business or financial relationship or transaction with the PNP or its intrumentality,” Quintans said.
Still, Coloma said Purisima was “accountable for all of his actions under our existing laws.”
“It’s up to individual public servants to decide whether his action is acceptable or not before the bar of public opinion. In all cases, all those serving in our government are accountable under the law,” Coloma said.–With a report from Christian V. Esguerra
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