If once you forfeit the confidence of your fellow-citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem.
Abraham LincolnFrom ABS-CBN News
MANILA - Businessman Antonio Tiu on Wednesday appeared before the Senate blue ribbon sub-committee to deny accusations that he is a dummy of Vice President Jejomar Binay for his 145-hectare estate in Rosario, Batangas.
No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.
Abraham LincolnTiu, chairman and majority shareholder of publicly listed companies AgriNurture Inc. (ANI) and Greenergy Holdings Inc., has repeatedly said that he is the legitimate owner of the estate.
Tiu has said that he acquired the estate in 2013 from a certain Laureano Gregorio for P446 million through his company, Sunchamp Real Estate Development Corp., and he is developing it for agri-tourism.
The Sunchamp Real Estate Development Corp., which is folded into Greenergy Holdings Inc., is the operator of the Sunchamp Agri-Tourism Park.
How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg.
Abraham LincolnHowever, in the Senate blue ribbon sub-committee hearing on Wednesday, senators said Tiu so far only has rights to use the Rosario, Batangas property, but full ownership still remains with Gregorio.
According to Tiu, he has paid Gregorio P11 million as down payment for the property. He said he will give the remaining balance only after the transfer certificate of title (TCT) is turned over to him.
"Magiging owner din po tayo," Tiu told the senators.
Senator Koko Pimentel, however, quickly pointed out, "Sa mata namin, hindi ikaw ang may-ari sa ngayon."
GREGORIO A DUMMY?
During the hearing, the 39-year-old businessman was grilled by Senator Alan Peter Cayetano on the identity of Gregorio.
The Vice President was accompanied in the Capitol Hill meetings by Rep.Abigail Binay-Campos; Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin S. Binay; Mr. Edgardo Lacson, Consultant on Trade and Finance and Atty. Martin C. Subido, Legal Counsel of VP Binay. (May 2014)Lawyer Martin Subido, the corporate secretary of Tiu's Greenergy Holdings Inc., told the Senate that he was the one who introduced Tiu to Gregorio back in 2012.
Subido noted that like Tiu, Gregorio was also a client of the Subido, Pagente, Certeza, Mendoza and Binay (SPCMB) law office.
Subido said Gregorio was suffering from an illness at that time and was looking for a buyer for his property in Rosario, Batangas. Tiu, on the other hand, was interested in developing an agri-tourism business, he said.
When he agreed to acquire the 145-hectare property of Gregorio, Tiu said several structures -- a rest house with swimming pool, pavilion, garden, and mini-zoo -- were already there, and he only improved and renovated the structures later on.
Cayetano then questioned Tiu if he knew Gregorio was a dummy of Binay, to which the businessman quickly answered, "Hindi ko po ugali yung mag-research ng seller ng property kung siya po ay dummy o hindi."
Tiu added that he is not privy to the personal relationship of Gregorio and Binay. "Hindi rin po ako capable to say if it is possible or not [for Gregorio to be a dummy of Binay]."
"Hindi po importante kung siya po ay dummy o hindi. Ang importante wala po akong ni-risk na nilugi yung pera ng company dahil yung buong deal ay subject to deliverables... Hindi ko po trabahong alamin kung dummy ang isang seller o hindi," he stressed.
Tiu's answer, however, did not sit well with Cayetano, who said he should have at least exercised "due diligence" before he agreed to acquire the 145-hectare estate.
"Hindi ka bibili ng property nang hindi mo kikilanin kung sino yung seller... Eh pano kung naloko kayo?" the senator asked.
Tiu, for his part, said they were able to establish that Gregorio was the legal owner of the property. But he refused to answer questions on whether the property was registered with the Civil Registry of Deeds under Gregorio's name.
Cayetano noted: "Ang sinasabi natin dito yung 150 hectares karamihan nun wala sa pangalan ni Mr. Laureano Gregorio, hindi naman naka-register sa Registry of Deeds... Yet binili pa rin ng Sunchamp, binili pa rin ni Mr. Tiu."
"Alam naman nating lahat na ang mga pulitiko at mga corrupt at mga ibang nagtatago ng property, ganun ang ginagawa. Pinapapirmahan lahat ng deed of sale, deed of assignment, pero hindi nire-register para di madaling ilipat."
"And that is the issue here: kung kay Vice President Binay ba yung property o kay Mr. Tiu," the senator added.
Cayetano, during the hearing, also gave a presentation on the supposed links of Gregorio to Binay.
He noted that Binay was one of the original incorporators of Agrifortuna Inc. when it was established in 1992. Agrifortuna is the original owner of the 145-hectare property in Rosario, Batangas, he said.
The other incorporators were Binay's wife Elenita Binay, Victor Gella, Ebeng Baloloy, Ruben Balane, and Nestor Alampay.
Cayetano said, in 1994, 9 hectares of the property were leased to Binay for his piggery business JCB Farms, and his wife's orchid farm.
In 1995, the Binay couple sold their interests in Agrifortuna to Gregorio, but retained the 9 hectares. In 2010, Binay eventually sold his JCB Farms to Agrifortuna.
Cayetano stressed that nothing in the declaration of Agrifortuna says that it has transferred ownership of the entire property to Gregorio.
"So how can you buy the farm and the piggery and the land if Mr. Gregorio doesn't own it but it is owned by Agrifortuna? Unless nagsisinungaling si Binay na hindi pala niya talaga binenta sa Agrifortuna, binenta pala niya kay Mr. Gregorio," he said.
Cayetano, meanwhile, also pointed out to the sub-committee that three lawyers who have links to Binay are members of the board of directors of Tiu's Sunchamp Real Estate Development Corp.
They are Subido, Maribeth Pagente, and Paula Katrina Nora, all law partners of the SPCMB law office.
Cayetano noted that the three lawyers became directors after Sunchamp agreed to acquire the 145-hectare property in Batangas.
Tiu, for his part, again insisted that it was just mere coincidence that the three are law partners of the SPCMB law office.