Tuesday, December 12, 2017
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Well done deal

THIS is a heartbreaking story about four heroic crusaders who went against what they called “large-scale graft and corruption” in the BCDA during the cute administration of Gloriaetta.

The BCDA, of course, is the Bases Conversion Development Authority, the government corporation tasked under Republic Act No. 6975 of 1992 to convert former military bases into commercial real estate.

Yes—it is the same BCDA that handles one of the most expensive pieces of property in the country today—the booming Bonifacio Global City, or BGC, the former Fort Bonifacio military camp.

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Then there are the four crusaders who call themselves ordinary taxpayers.

The truth is that they worked in the government during the time of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and that is why they claim to have inside knowledge of the alleged corruption in the BCDA.

As their story goes, some top officials in the cute administration of Gloriaetta engineered a huge multibillion-peso deal between the BCDA and a famous real estate company.

It was the very deal that they deemed an example of large-scale graft and corruption.

At that time, they felt that they could hardly do anything to stop it, since the deal—and its backers in government—obviously had the blessings of Malacañang.

And so they resorted to other means to expose the alleged anomaly, making some noise in news media, for instance, in the hope of creating public awareness, so that lawmakers would take interest in the BCDA deal.

Sure enough, certain congressmen here and there delivered privilege speeches to condemn the deal, but neither the Senate nor the House of Representatives spent even just a second of their famous “investigation in aid of legislation” on the deal.

In other words, our beloved lawmakers simply buried the controversy, just like that.

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An influential senator had claimed to certain news media people that the real estate company was his…well, “client.” Now I see.

For that matter, even the COA, or the supposedly independent Commission on Audit, refused to look into the BCDA deal, justifying its position with a weird reason—the deal was already the subject of court cases.

Anyway, if our four heroic crusaders were to expect some results in their fight against large-scale corruption, they knew that they simply had to wait for the “next” administration.

That was the Aquino (Part II) administration that came into power in 2010.

What encouraged the four crusaders was that, right from the start, our leader Benigno Simeon (aka BS) promised his “bosses” that he and his boys would always follow the straight and narrow path.

In 2012, therefore, they filed cases of graft and corruption before the Ombudsman against several prominent government officials during the cute administration of Gloriaetta.

What do you know—the Ombudsman instantly set the case aside!

Among the respondents in the case were former Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno and former BCDA Chair Narciso Abaya.

By the way, Puno is the same political strategist who recently made headlines as the newfound strategist of Vice President Jejomar Binay, who is seeking the presidency in the May elections.

The genius of Puno in winning elections was also credited for the victory of Arroyo in the 2014 elections, when she ran against movie actor Fernando Poe Jr., father of another presidential candidate, Sen. Grace Poe.

Up to today, as it turned out, almost six years after our leader BS vowed to follow the straight and narrow path, with only a few months left in his term, nothing has happened to the BCDA deal.

Not a single administrative action, mind you!

And so the four crusaders perhaps must pin their hopes on the next administration.

But what was the deal all about?

Well, it seems that, during the cute administration of Gloriaetta, the BCDA entered into a deal with a well-known developer over this prime property in the former Fort Bonifacio, covering some 71,000 sq m.

The BCDA chair at that time was none other than Abaya, a product of West Point military academy in the United States, who also served as AFP chief during the cute administration of Gloriaetta.

By the way, Abaya, the military general, is also the uncle of our beloved Department of Transportation and Communications chief, Joseph Emilio Abaya, who is being attacked by Poe for the poor services of the MRT Edsa train line.

Based on the market price of land at the BGC today, the 21,000-sq-m prime property in the BCDA deal can easily fetch more than P20 billion.
Now, how much did the government get out of the BCDA deal?

Well, er, ahh, actually, nobody knew and nobody knows up to today, even six years after those supposedly responsible for the deal were already out of power.

Nobody still knows what the government hopes to get out of the deal, even with the boys of our leader BS still trumpeting the good deeds of the Aquino (Part II) administration in their straight and narrow path.

And why is that? Well, it is because the BCDA deal did not talk about what kind of “cash” the government would get out of the deal—you know, that’s kind of a mystery!
As it turned out, the BCDA deal with the private real estate company was not an actual sale of the prime property, but rather a mere “joint venture.”
In effect, it allowed the giant real estate company to get the 71,000 sq m without actually paying the government for it in cash.

Our four brave crusading taxpayers noted, however, that the “joint venture” should at least have something about the profit sharing between the government and the private real estate company.

What to do with the profits should be the first thing that the parties in any joint venture would have to thresh out, right?

And the BCDA did not even bother to put a single word about such an important feature in the “joint venture” that it grilled with the private company?
Here is the latest on the “large-scale graft and corruption” case that our four brave crusaders filed before Ombudsman: It is now being revived. Let’s see.

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TAGS: BCDA, Business, column, conrado r. banal iii, Graft
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