LP, not just Poe, borrowed plane, says SMC’s Ang
POPULAR presidential aspirant Grace Poe has admitted to borrowing a private plane from San Miguel Group for her campaign, but it turns out that she’s not the most frequent flyer among those who want to take the place of President Benigno Aquino III in Malacañang.
San Miguel Corp. (SMC) president Ramon S. Ang told reporters yesterday that the plane borrowed at times by Poe was his personal plane and not owned by the company.
“By the way, even my personal plane if you want to check the logbook, 90 plus percent [of the time I lend to the Liberal Party or usually to the government],” Ang said.
He did not say, however, if LP presidential standard-bearer Mar Roxas was among the members of the ruling party who have borrowed his plane.
In February, Poe admitted to borrowing planes from two groups, Helitrend and SMC.
Ang said he lent his plane to anyone if he was not using it.
Among the borrowers was Poe, he said.
The SMC president is a licensed pilot and sometimes he flies his plane with his family as passengers.
Ang issued the clarification after Poe was questioned about her use of a “San Miguel” plane during the last presidential debate, held in Cebu City on March 20.
Asked whom he was supporting in the presidential election, Ang said he was supportive of everyone.
“You know that I’m not stupid to support only one. I work in San Miguel so if I do that, the company will be affected. We support everyone who’s running. All of them are my friends,” Ang said.
Level playing field
He stressed, however, that he had never and would never ask a favor from anyone in the government.
“We only join public biddings and we only play on a level playing field. We never ask a favor from anyone in [the] government,” Ang said.
Some people describe him as “close” to President Aquino, Ang said this was furthest from the truth.
Ang noted that in the bidding for the Cavite-Laguna Expressway toll road, SMC submitted the best offer, but the government decided to rebid the public-private partnership (PPP) project.
The project was eventually bagged by SMC’s rival, Metro Pacific Investments Corp. headed by Manuel V. Pangilinan.
In the bidding for the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) expressway, Ang said, “even some parties who were not qualified were allowed to participate.”
SMC won the bidding for the project.
In the bidding for the Daang Hari toll road—the first PPP project offered by the Aquino administration—Ang said: “We lost, but they changed the terms of reference and the government ended up subsidizing [the cost].”
The project was undertaken by the Ayala Group.
Asked about the health of Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, Ang confirmed that the SMC chair had gone to the United States for a medical checkup.
“As of last night, when I talked to the doctor, [I was told] he’s doing very well,” he said.
In 2012, Cojuangco completed the sale of the single biggest controlling block in SMC to Ang. But Cojuangco, whose leadership began in 1998, has remained chair of the conglomerate.
Analysts see Cojuangco’s move as part of the businessman’s estate planning, which is similar to the route taken by some retiring American tycoons who cash out their controlling stakes in their companies to distribute the proceeds to their heirs upon their retirement but make sure management will pass on to people deemed most fit to continue running the businesses.