Breaktime

The case of the missing IRA

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THE Aquino (Part II) administration, under the leadership of Benigno Simeon (a.k.a. BS), may soon face a P70-billion lawsuit involving the IRA—yes, the internal revenue allotment that the national government is supposed to remit to LGUs every year.

Word has it that Rep. Mandanas, the former governor of Batangas, is preparing to file a case before the Supreme Court. And we all know what kind of relationship the Aquino (Part II) administration has been able to develop with the Supreme Court.

Anyway, in the planned case, Mandanas contends that the national government owes LGUs some P70 billion in IRA for 2011.

Now, Mandanas filed a similar case in court some years ago and he won.

Interestingly, Mandanas became the talk of media town a couple of weeks ago at the height of the campaign by our leader BS to impeach Chief Justice Renato Corona.

It seems that Mandanas, who belonged to the Liberal Party, the very party of BS, defied party line by refusing to sign the articles of impeachment.

As things reportedly soured between the two officials, Mandanas was booted out as chair of one of the most powerful committees in the House of Representatives, the ways and means committee.

In a subsequent press briefing, BS denied that Mandanas’ ouster from the committee had something to do with the latter’s stand on the impeachment.

BS reportedly said that he and Mandanas had differences over the IRA.

Word on the forthcoming IRA case goes around that, the way things are between a group of justices and the Palace, Mandanas simply has to ask the Supreme Court, formally and officially, and it shall be given.

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The listed Abacus Consolidated Resources & Holdings, known as ABA on the stock market ticker tape, is undergoing a major reorganization that will show some P600 million in windfall income in 2012.

Abacus disclosed to the Philippine Stock Exchange that its board had approved three major elements of the reorganization, including a statement from its president Leonardo Gayao, predicting 2012 as its banner year.

Now, with the booked income of P600 million, the company’s PE ratio will still be less than 3 times, which is way below the market average.

Abacus is not one of those sexy issues such as the much talked about Philex, despite the ongoing Senate investigation.

For that matter, prices of several issues are going to the stratosphere on rumors that they would be used for some backdoor listings, eliciting from the PSE and the SEC (the Securities and Exchange Commission) nothing but silence.

Anyway, Abacus already obtained permits from the HLURB, or the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board, to sell lots and condo units in Batangas City, which hosts the Batangas port, the main backup to the Port of Manila.

From what I have gathered, Abacus will have to reappraise its real estate holdings, which definitely have gone up in value by this time, because they will be transferred to another company.

The new company in turn will be a consolidation of the Abacus group’s investment house (called Philippine Regional Investment Development Corp., or PRIDE), its mutual fund and real estate companies.

The real estate holdings are expected to result in an appraisal increase of at least P200 million, according to the disclosure to the PSE.

The biggest revenue that Abacus will book in the revaluation of assets will be its gold mining claim.

The company plans to transfer its gold mining rights to a new company, a joint venture with a group from China.

Abacus expects to book as income some P300 million worth of capital in the mining joint venture.

Not many in the stock market know that Abacus also has major holdings in the listed firm Pacific Online Systems Corp., nicknamed Posco, which in turn has the contract with the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, a.k.a. PCSO, for the use of Posco’s lotto technology.

In its disclosure, Abacus revealed that it will reclassify its equity in Posco as financial assets for active trading in the stock market, thus yielding a gain of about P100 million, based on the market price of Posco shares.

From what I have gathered, Abacus has a 35 percent interest in Posco. It intends to sell the entire block of shares eventually. Our info is that Abacus already has a buyer.

The story goes that a big-time investor, who happens to be somewhat controversial nowadays, already offered to Abacus a handsome amount for its Posco holdings. A major stockholder of Posco, which is also into real estate, for some reason, frowned on the sale of the holdings to the controversial big-time investor.

***

Earlier, we reported that the Harvard graduate business executive Santi Dumlao, who ran against the man named Band…Wrist Band…in the 1998 presidential election, was writing a book about former SSS chair and president Carlos “Chuckie” Arellano.

I heard that the book is hot off the press, titled “The Creation of Wealth,” most probably focusing on Arellano’s stint in the SSS as the only professional fund manager that the SSS ever had as president in all its years of existence.

On that alone, Dumlao has perhaps already sent a strong message: What should be the most important qualification of the head of the pension fund?

Arellano stirred a lot of controversy during his stint at the SSS, inviting attacks from politicos, who invariably had to go to media outfits to attack Arellano for his decisions to invest SSS funds in the stock market.

After the time of Arellano at the SSS, the fund never bothered to invest in the stock market. All its share holdings were acquired during Arellano’s time. Today, the SSS is reaping the benefits from those Arellano investments.

Indeed, Arellano bought shares in blue-chip companies, enough for the pension fund to acquire board seats in PLDT, San Miguel, Lopez Holdings, DMCI, and Belle Resources, among others.

I heard that in the book, Dumlao named some individuals who either helped or blocked Arellano in his career as a professional fund manager in the defunct Far East Bank, and in his stint with the SSS.

Are you one of them?

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