Get real
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 16 May 2015

The Republic of the Philippines, represented by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), filed the ex parte (in the interest of an interested outside party) petition for the issuance of a freeze order on 224 bank accounts and 18 investments and insurance policies owned by Vice President Jejomar Binay, certain members of his immediate family, and close associates. This arose out of a letter, signed by the Office of the Ombudsman on Nov. 18, 2014, requesting the AMLC secretariat to do so, plus what came out of the Senate hearings.

The petition was filed on May 7 and the Court of Appeals’ order came out on May 11. Much too fast? No, a petition of this nature should actually have been acted on within 24 hours, because accounts can so easily be closed, or deposits withdrawn in the blink of an eye. The ponente was Justice Ricardo R. Rosario, and the other members of the Court of Appeals First Division that issued the freeze order were Presiding Justice Andres B. Reyes Jr. and Justice Edwin Sorongon.

The freeze order is for six months, within which time charges have to be brought, or the freeze is automatically lifted. As of now, the freeze order is based on the existence of probable cause that these deposits are related to violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and are unlawful activities under the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001.

Of those 224 accounts, how many were actually VP Binay’s? I counted 19, of which seven are jointly held with others—five with his wife Elenita, and two with his finance man, Gerry Limlingan. These 19 accounts are in BDO Unibank (4, including the 2 with Limlingan), Land Bank (2), Metrobank (1), Security Bank (4), BPI (5, held jointly with Elenita), PNB (2), and RCBC (1). His son, Mayor Junjun Binay, has eight accounts in five different banks. Together, they account for 27 of the 224 accounts. Abigail Binay and Nancy Binay’s accounts were not mentioned, simply because they were not named in either the Senate hearings or the charges with the Ombudsman. So, whose are the 197 accounts that the AMLC wants frozen?

As far as I can make out, 53 of those are in the name of Eduviges Duenas Baloloy (not including one in her husband’s name), held singly (29) or jointly (11) with Gerry Limlingan, the rest with Limlingan’s staff or other persons whose names come out very often in the stories. So the question arises: Who is Eduviges Duenas Baloloy? She is described as the long-time secretary of VP Binay, where she holds the position of executive assistant 4, with an annual income, as of December 2013, of P697,658 (starting at P266,948 in 2006).

The story gets more interesting. How come, with that kind of a salary, she has 53 accounts in four different banks? Not only that, the deposits made in those accounts were humongous. The smallest was P550,000 and the largest was P100,000,000 (that is not a typographical error). I am sorry I didn’t have time to get the average, and I will do so at some point. There is still more: the AMLC lists down other large transactions in which she appears to have placed funds in investment management accounts. The transactions listed by the AMLC take more than seven legal-size pages. And after the Senate hearings started, both Baloloy and Limlingan started “selling securities, making inter-account transfers—same bank, pre-terminating their time deposits, investment placements, encashments of checks and withdrawing the bank deposits.”

Does it not smell of a dummy situation? Ernesto Mercado’s testimony in the Senate hearings, about giving several “bayong” of money to Baloloy from the 13-percent commission on Makati projects, seems to have hit the nail right on the head.

If Baloloy had 53 of the 224 accounts, she pales in comparison with Limlingan. Either singly or jointly with his staff, Limlingan
accounted for the rest of the accounts, except for those six held by Ernesto Mercado (the AMLC did not spare him from their examinations), and for the 19 held by Chinese-sounding names like Tiu, and Lee and Chong, allegedly other dummies as well. If my arithmetic is correct, Limlingan’s deposits numbered about 120, with enormous amounts
being deposited and withdrawn. Considering that Limlingan’s avowed income (which is what he told the banks) was about P30,000 a month, or P360,000 a year—less than Baloloy’s income—the magnitude of those
deposits fairly scream “Dummy.” No wonder he cannot be found.

How many readers remember the Senate hearings on Alphaland, where Mario Oreta and Roberto Ongpin were all holier than thou, saying that the Boy Scouts of the Philippines were not in the least bit disadvantaged by the Binay decision to sell them the Makati property of the Boy Scouts? Again, it seems that Mercado’s testimony may be the correct version. Because it turns out that 14 of the Limlingan accounts were held jointly by a Mario Alejo Oreta. Why should Alphaland’s president (or vice president) be involved in any Limlingan account? Again, there is that awful smell.

It seems that former vice mayor Mercado and his charges are being vindicated by the AMLC report. I have only one question: If the Republic of the Philippines has filed a case against the Vice President of the Philippines, shouldn’t he at least resign from his Cabinet position? One only has to read the petition of the AMLC, to realize that there is now “hard evidence” against him. He should stop making a spectacle of himself, and answer the charges as best he can.