LAST Tuesday, we detailed how Manny Villar and his housing corporations made its billions, piggy-backing on the monies of the Republic of the Philippines.
By a scheme called "takeout," Camella and Palmera, among others, sold socialized cost housing units to any Tom, Dick and Harry, never mind if they could afford the monthly installments. Then, they turned around to the NHMFC, and through the United Home Lending Program, they were paid the value of the houses sold, in cash. Because many of the buyers, in fact more than half of them, could not pay the mortgaged units, the government was left holding the proverbial empty bag. The housing deals made Villar happy and awash with billions in profits. But Juan de la Cruz, though he did not know it then, has every reason to be unhappy. The uncollected mortgages were charged to the Republic.
Villar went for the even bigger deals. He bought every available piece of land in Bacoor, Imus, Muntinglupa, San Pedro and Las Piñas, even Cebu, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo, and other bustling parts of the benighted land. These were financed by huge dollar-denominated borrowings just at the time that FVR de-regulated banking restrictions on foreign exchange. And to make sure the loans were easily facilitated, Villar had a bank to boot – Capitol Bank, which was re-packaged from the ashes of a previously failed bank. And his wife was the CEO of Capitol Bank.
But then, the heavens caved in when an overheated, over-expanded Southeast Asia suddenly got caught in the throes of a major recession. Hardest hit was Thailand, where several mega-billionaires jumped desperately from buildings to their death. Manny Villar, earlier basking in recognition as the "brown taipan," suddenly felt the ground shake beneath his billion-peso empire. It must have been akin to Intensity 8. But smart Filipinos do not commit hara-kiri. They enter politics, and then dump their liabilities on the Republic. Again, bahala na si Juan de la Cruz.
In 1998, Capitol Bank got emergency loans in four tranches from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. Earlier in this space, I thought Cynthia Villar and Anacordita Magno’s signed promissory notes were only for 1.168 billion and 332 million, respectively, for a total of 1.5 billion pesos. And I thought that the bulk of the properties mortgaged and later foreclosed was the Norzagaray ancestral land occupied by Dumagats and remontados.
It turns out I barely scratched the tip of the iceberg, with documents provided by long-suffering and long-complaining farmers. For now, Bangko Sentral insiders, shocked at the kind of investigation they would have to weather after June 30 from an incensed people who would want closure and justice from several financial scandals and gross violations of anti-graft and plunder laws, and seeing how their top officials continue to stonewall, obfuscate and even prevaricate, supplied us with evidentiary documents proving that it was not just 1.5 billion pesos that the BSP in 1998 doled out to the insolvent Capitol Bank, but 4.5 billion!
On March 20, 1998, 2 billion pesos was released. Six days after, on March 26, another 1 billion was granted. Then on April 22, 1.168 billion, followed by 332 million two days after. For a grand total of 4.5 billion pesos. All of these happened while Manuel Villar Jr. was running unopposed for a third term as congressman of the lone district of Las Piñas under the ticket of Lakas-NUCD, whose standard-bearer was Jose de Venecia, then Speaker of the House of Representatives.
But another person trumped De Venecia, winning in every city and municipality of Metro Manila, except in the Villar-Aguilar fiefdom called Las Piñas. Strangely, Erap made Villar speaker after he was elected and proclaimed president, leaving Joker Arroyo of Makati and Bibit Duavit of the NPC and Rizal, out in the cold. This was a decision I objected to, as then newly-named presidential adviser on political affairs, albeit awaiting the official oath-taking, because I have a personal dislike, then and now, for political turncoatism. But the President had decided. Two years and five months later, the decision to adopt Villar as his Speaker must have caused Erap deep regrets. For Villar impeached him and forthwith, "like a thief in the night," sent the articles of impeachment to the Senate for trial.
As Speaker, Villar was an awesome power the "independent" Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and the Monetary Board had to contend with. The promissory notes remained unpaid long after their six-month term expired. Thus, the BSP, through its Department of Loans and Credit, wrote the Optimum Development Bank, on December 13, 1999, the successor bank of Capitol Development Bank which had earlier closed down, reminding them of a total obligation of "PhP Four Billion Three Hundred Forty Million Three Hundred Seventy Four Thousand Seven Hundred Seventy Pesos and 71 centavos, EXCLUSIVE of the corresponding accrued interest and liquidated damages".
"Because of this, we have been given definite instruction(s) to initiate legal action against you and the real estate mortgage(s) securing the said amount…Consider this as our FINAL demand".
Cutting a long story short, the Bangko Sentral foreclosed on the properties mortgaged to it by Capitol Development Bank. Deeds of real estate mortgage executed by several Villar corporations, such as Optimum, Adelfa, Palmera, Manila Brickworks, Capitol, Carissa, Household Development, etc. etc. etc., were hastily signed from 2000 to 2001 by Anacordita Magno and Jerry Navarrete, during which time Villar had already successfully dumped Erap in favor of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and in fact, became senator of the realm in May 2001, while the transfers were yet being made to the BSP, which accepted the "titles" through Andres I. Rustia, Managing Director of the Department of Loans, Credit and Asset Management.
In an announcement made via an ad in this paper reacting to the questions posed before it by farmer’s groups and NGO’s assisting the Norzagaray farmers, the BSP now says (1) they exercised due diligence in ascertaining the validity of land titles mortgaged to it; (2) they had to act fast as lender of last resort; (3) they took appropriate legal steps to protects their rights as creditor; and (4) the claims of the Norzagaray farmes are now pending litigation and BSP would abide by the decision of the appropriate courts."
In short, the people of the Republic, whose money entrusted to the bank of banks, to the tune of 4.5 billion pesos excluding interest, will just have to accept the "good word" of its fiduciary trustee that everything was done in order, and everything was protective of their interest. The farmers dispossessed of legal title to their land will just have to grin and bear it, because the Bank said so, and will have to await decision by the courts of justice in a land where justice is for sale, or if not so in certain exceptions, is blind to the plight of the powerless when pitted against the powerful. And Manuel Villar Jr. wants to be the most powerful man in this land for the next six years.
It turns out though that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas not only accepted overlapping Norzagaray titles with faked provenance. It also accepted marginal properties in Teresa, Rizal, among others, and accepted the Villar corporation’s claimed valuations thereof which in most cases were FIVE to SIX times their market value at the time! Just as an example, TCT No. M-71887 with a Tax Declaration market value of 30,000 pesos, was accepted by the BSP at the declared collateral value of 211,400, and a 70% loan value of 148,000 pesos. TCT M-71925n worth 16,000 pesos was accepted at a collateral value of 149,950 pesos with a loan value of 105,000 pesos. And so on and so forth, through page after page of enumerated real estate "garbage."
Tell you what. In 1978, my old folks had to borrow from a commercial bank so we could rebuild a commercial property in Butuan City that was burned down without appropriate insurance. The property we hocked was given a loan value of only 60% of market. How many of us lesser mortals have had to plead with our banks to please, oh Lord please, give us more value for our precious little assets when we need the loan so very badly?
Ah, but as F. Scott Fitzgerald said, "the rich are different from you and I". And in this benighted land, the supra-powerful, like a senator and congresswoman, a Speaker at that, and a Senate President even, are certainly different from you and I.
Even insofar as the "independent" Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas is concerned.
The moral of the story of Manny Villar’s billions? It pays to be powerful. It pays to abuse your power.
You make an obscene amount of billions not through "sipag at tiyaga" but through cunning and deceit and the arrogant abuse of power. And when you lose those billions, either through recklessness or sheer misfortune, no need to worry…you can always charge it to poor Juan de la Cruz. You can inflate the value of your :garbage", dump it upon a trusting and submissive Bank of Banks, and just relax. And then, using all the monies you could scoop out of the public works budget, your collective pork barrel (his and hers) and even budgetary insertions, you can cause the building of spanking new highways to traverse your choice properties (C-5, Daang Hari, Daang Reyna, etc.) the better to increase their value and marketability, no longer as "low-cost" houses, but as Italianate or Mediterranean-inspired homes for the nouveau riche.
And then put together your by-now-freed-from debt corporations, thanks to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and other banks left holding garbage-filled bags into one corporate flagship. Then you go to the Philippine Stock Exchange and have the new flagship sold to the gullible public in the form of initial public offerings of hyped-up shares of stock. And when you foresee rough economic times ahead, because of an economic recession triggered in similar but bigger fashion in the ultra-rich United States of A, dump those shares of stock, take the money, and run for president of the benighted Republic whose citizens and institutions and public monies you have used, abused and hood-winked.
No. Gibo is not "galing at talino". Gloria is. And most certainly, perhaps even more "galing at talino" than Gloria and her Mike, her Mikey y ademas relaciones, is Senor Manny Villar, er, Money Villarroyo.
Manny Villar Jr. a Philippine Presidentiable Controversy Collections.
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- ▼ April (13)