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When the rich go public with their quarrels, media reports usually say that the squabbles are all about money.

But with regard to the high society family dispute featuring the marital problems of Francisco Ortigas III (former ambassador to Mexico) and Susan Bayot Ortigas, who both come from well-to-do families, media seemed to have focused solely on the affidavit filed by Mrs. Ortigas as the “abused” wife, complete with all the sordid details.

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All right, it is clear from the media reports that they have a pending court case for legal separation.

Thousands of similar cases filed by the rich and famous in the past have come and gone—unnoticed. The couples simply agreed to part ways, split the money and get married again.

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We never heard about those cases.

The highly publicized split of the Ortigas couple thus becomes the talk of business town nowadays, partly because of the juicy details in the wife’s affidavit, but more so because of the glaring absence of one usual issue in public displays of disaffection among the rich: the question of money.

That the camp of Mrs. Ortigas obviously made her affidavit available to media, infused as it was with colorful language, precisely raised the money question. They had to go on a media blitz for no other reason.

Incidentally, word has it that the newspaper articles—the kind damaging to Mr. Ortigas—somehow found their way to employees of Ortigas & Co. Partnership Ltd., and even a number of the offices of foreign missions in the country, in quick succession.

There is a clear demolition job against the husband.

Not a few of us thus waited for Mr. Ortigas to respond to the media reports in kind. They were tilted heavily against him. Surely he has sordid details of his own about the other side.

Somebody named Madrigal, for instance, supposedly rented out a huge property in the posh Ayala Alabang subdivision that the police raided for being a “shabu” factory. Or what is the score on their “conjugal properties?”

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Who between them, since they both belong to rich clans, has more to give up when they separate the conjugal properties?

Is one of them going to sign or, for that matter, be forced to sign a “quit claim” or something?

The camp of Mrs. Ortigas has been quiet about the businesses of the Madrigal-Bayot clan that was also heavy in real estate, although word gets around that sales in the group’s condo project called “The Address” somewhat slowed down, which is under the Madrigal-Bayot Development Corp.

That company in turn is under the Madrigal Bayot Group of Companies that had unloaded investments in cement production (Rizal Cement and Solid Cement) and banking (Consolidated Bank, which was absorbed by Metrobank).

Some tidbits about those businesses would make sensational reports in media, for sure.

The man, nevertheless, said that his marital affairs were a private matter that “refined and civilized” individuals should not discuss in public. To the media he pleaded for a little more civility and “allow the legal process instead to take its course.”

But this is already a full-blown word war. Media is ready to feast on it. The couple has been married for more than 40 years. Surely the man had his own misgivings during all those years? Media must be dying for him to wash some dirty clothes in public. No dice!

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The group called Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), particularly the chapter in Iloilo, has come out with open letters to our leader Benigno Simeon (aka BS) regarding the brand-new city hall in Iloilo City.

It seems that BS is going to attend the inauguration of the building. And so the FDC is calling on BS to investigate certain issues surrounding the project. The group warned that his presence would only serve to hide the bad odor from it all.

The city government of Iloilo obtained a loan from the Land Bank of the Philippines, initially amounting to P455 million. The LGU then obtained another credit facility amounting to P260 million.

The FDC said that the total project would thus have a total budget of P715 million—from the original P455 million.

Winner of the bidding for the construction of the new city hall was FF Cruz and Co., which submitted a bid of P368 million, or much lower than the initial budget of P455 million.

But the FDC claimed that the contract underwent “revisions” that removed certain items supposed to be part of the original contract.

In the LGU website, Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, nevertheless, answered that the additional credit line was needed for furnishings, painting and equipment.

It seems that the city government would need P260 million for things like furniture, air-conditioning system, generators and cafeteria—those things not part of the contract with FF Cruz.

Now, in 2006, as the FDC noted in its open letter, the city government bought a piece of farmland for P63 million. The FDC claimed that the land was worth only P7 million. The city, in 2001, also spent P140 million on a housing project that was never completed.

Cases were filed with the Ombudsman. Nothing happened in all of them.

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TAGS: Francisco Ortigas III, graft and corruption, Iloilo city hall, local government, marriage, People, Scandal, Susan Bayot Ortigas
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