I’m not a Binay dummy, says Chinese-Filipino businessman Antonio Tiu
MANILA, Philippines–“I am not a dummy.”
Chinese-Filipino businessman Antonio Tiu issued the statement on Monday after senators advised him to admit fronting for Vice President Jejomar Binay on the ownership of a 350-hectare property in Batangas province.
Tiu, executive chair of AgriNurture Inc. (ANI), said that his accusers were wrong and that he would prove his innocence when he appears before the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee investigating the Vice President’s alleged hidden wealth.
“I am not a dummy. I am engaged in legitimate business here and abroad primarily on agriculture. I made my fortune through sheer hard work and my determination to succeed. If we really want to count the number of farmers we have been providing jobs and markets, it will run into more than 100,000,” Tiu said.
The businessman explained that he was getting his primary revenues from the export of banana, mango and coconut water.
He also claimed that he pioneered the postharvest facility, processing and marketing of coconut water, and is promoting the processing and export of tamarind.
“I have a joint venture with China’s biggest agricultural firm Beidahuang in 2010. It has invested in developing hybrid rice in the Philippines to augment the rice shortage. Over the years, Beidahuang has spent more than
$10 million in the field of research and development,” he added.
His name was recently dragged into the Binay controversy when he was accused of covering up and acting as front for the Vice President’s property in Rosario, Batangas, where the businessman’s Sunchamp agri-nature farm is also located.
At the Senate hearing last week, former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado accused Tiu of acting as a dummy for Binay in the ownership of the Batangas property.
In a joint statement, ANI employees, suppliers and distributors said that the Senate could file the appropriate charges against Binay if he committed any crime but asked it to not play with their lives “for the sake of political grandstanding.”
“We collectively represent around 5,000 people whose livelihood solely depends on ANI. From the rank-and-file employees of ANI to its suppliers and distributors of fruits and vegetables, seasonal farmers, contract growers and other allied agricultural and nonagricultural service providers, we are the engine that has made ANI one of the country’s biggest distributor and exporter of agricultural products,” the group’s statement read.
The ANI employees, suppliers and distributors claimed that their livelihood and the lives of their families were “at serious risk” because of the accusations that Tiu and ANI were Binay’s dummies.–Maricar B. Brizuela
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