Tip of the iceberg: Manny Villar’s and JV Ejercito’s alleged secret offshore accounts

jv_ejercito_manny_villarThe recent brouhaha over the linking of Senator Manny Villar and House Representative JV Ejercito to shady offshore corporations based in the British Virgin Islands is timely. The brouhaha surrounds a recent report published by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) of revelations following a thorough international investigation conducted by the Washington, D.C.-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ)…

The ICIJ investigation, of which PCIJ was part, found that Villar is the beneficial owner of a BVI international business corporation called Awesome Dragon Holdings Limited. It was incorporated in the BVI on July 26, 2007 while he was president of the Senate.

Villar served as Senate president from July 2006 to November 2008.

The ICIJ investigation also found that Ejercito is a director of a BVI company called Ice Bell Properties Limited formed on July 8, 1999, when his father was still president. Ejercito was then a nominee to Congress of the Kabataan ng Masang Pilipino, a party-list group affiliated with his father’s Partido ng Masang Pilipino.

Indeed, the Philippine Senate in the course of overseeing the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona last year had laid the groundwork for the development and implementation of measures to track down and stop government officials from squirreling away ill-gotten wealth into secret bank accounts both locally and overseas. In my May 2012 article Moving on after the trial: repeal of the Foreign Currency Deposit Act followed by a full-scale audit and investigation, I enumerated the following key premises comprising this framework:

(1) Understating wealth held in both local and foreign currency on the hallowed pages of the Statement of Assets Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) has been clarified beyond further debatability as an absolute violation of the law.

(2) The attempt made by the prosecution team to introduce information on Corona’s dollar-denominated bank accounts as evidence in the trial and then to get the Senate impeachment court to go as far as to actually debate the possibility of bypassing Section 8 of Republic Act 6426 (“Foreign Currency Deposit Act of the Philippines”) to allow the use of this information in the trial implies a clear legislative agenda over the next several years to repeal what are now evidently outdated bank secrecy laws in the Philippines.

(3) Information routinely gathered and tracked by the Anti Money Laundering Council of the Philippines (AMLC) can be employed by the Ombudsman to investigate government officials when banking activity and movement of funds that can be interpreted as suspicious are detected.

(4) Police action can be mounted and criminal charges filed on the basis of evidence gathered by investigations conducted by the newly-strengthened partnership of the Ombudsman and the AMLC.

The above four premises are nothing new. Indeed, the only hard and long journey required of us is to see the legislative agenda to reform the country’s bank secrecy laws through — a big challenge indeed for a famously forgetful people whose ningas-cogon tradition routinely dooms them to chronic mediocrity and flaccidity of purpose.

So while Villar provided what looked like a forthright response to media queries on his BVI accounts (admitting that he is “the ‘ultimate shareholder’ of Awesome Dragon Holdings Limited [but that] it was a dormant company with a capital of just one US dollar”), Ejercito issued a statement that merely skirted the hard question

To the best of my knowledge, I have truthfully and accurately declared all my assets, liabilities, and net worth in my SALN.

The timing of this so-called exposé is highly suspicious considering that I am one of the UNA candidates consistently on the winning list of monthly surveys done by different polling organizations, and that I have just recently barged in to the top 3 of the SWS Survey.

I have heretofore had high respect for the PCIJ. I hope that they are not falling prey to the manipulation of desperate people in dirty politics.

…the hard question being whether he is or isn’t a director in Ice Bell Properties Limited.

Ano nga ba talaga?

Well, so ok, if the past is the past then perhaps we might instead look to the future. And the future seems to be one that begs a relevant legislative agenda on the matter of politicians’ secret troves of wealth. Perhaps this is what the May 2013 elections involving the Legislative Branch should be all about — applying the lessons learnt and the precedents set during the burning at the stake of former Chief Justice Corona in 2012.

It is likely that all that has come to light so far is merely the tip of the iceberg of what may be a decades-long systematic concealment of wealth by politicians, oligarchs, and feudal clans transcending partisan lines and crossing branches of government.

Which of the candidates can fill what is currently a vacuous portfolio of legislative agendas with the real goods — ones that can potentially lift the skirt off what could be a vast institutionalised wealth concealment machine?

As always:

Abangan ang susunod na kabanata.

[Photo courtesy GlobalResearch.ca.]

About benign0

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35 Responses to Tip of the iceberg: Manny Villar’s and JV Ejercito’s alleged secret offshore accounts

  1. OnesimusUnbound says:

    Regardless of timing and motive of PCIJ, Mr Villar and Mr Ejercito have questionable off shore accounts. Hopefully, the truth will come out.

    Moreover, this event will send signal to the public officials to be serious on transparency.

    Quoting JV: Like ko `to!

  2. Johnny Saint says:

    As long as we’re talking about government officials’ offshore accounts, might as well mention an old favorite — the Marcos family.

    The ICIJ also disclosed that Imee Marcos Manotoc is both a beneficiary and financial advisor of the Sintra Trust, formed in the British Virgin Islands in 2002. She is also financial advisor of the ComCentre Corporation, also incorporated in 2002. Sintra was a beneficial shareholder of ComCentre. Other beneficiaries of the trust include her three sons with estranged husband Tommy Manotoc.

    Neither of these companies are declared in Imee Marcos’ statement of assets and liabilities.

  3. Johnny Saint says:

    “…Ejercito issued a statement that merely skirted the hard question…”

    I’d consider it a denial. He claims that the information stated in his SALN is complete and accurate to the best of his knowledge. Ice Bell isn’t mentioned in his SALN. JV is in fact denying he is a director in the company. His phraseology may make his denial equivocal but you expect a politician to talk out of both sides of their mouth. It’s practically a job requirement.

  4. Well for Mr. Villar he is already a well-established businessman long before he entered politics. In fact he is known before as the brown taipan. Having offshore accounts is okay as long as it is not taken from the public’s coffers. For JV Ejercito, it will be a different matter altogether. If indeed the report of his offshore accounts is true, where the hell did he get all this money? However,under our democratic system of governance, everyone is entitled to due process. So may request these two gentlemen to enlighten the public as to the sources of these funds?

    • Johnny Saint says:

      It isn’t so much that businessmen like Manny Villar have offshore accounts. If that were really the issue the government should be going after Manny Pangilinan. His holding company Metro Pacific Investments Corp., while based here in the Philippines is, I believe, technically a Malaysian company. And it has various interests — from telecommunications (PLDT) to cable television to water utilities to power generation to health care. That much business held by a technically foreign company should make one rethink the government’s position on property and company ownership.

      The issue is transparency. Something our democracy insists on as a means of ensuring that our public officials will not be compromised as servants and representatives of the Philippines and its people. The fact that Villar, Ejercito and Imee Marcos hid their business ventures — even the mere act of doing so — raises suspicion that not everything they are doing is above board. It further raises the doubt that they are fit for the job.

    • Glenn says:

      u kno, that is part of the problem. that ‘due process’ is an entitlement. if entrusted with the people’s trust and the keys to the treasury, that right should be waived, and if caught with the hand in the till? just cut the damm hand off, maybe that would make some of these nervy POS think twice before stuffing their pockets with the people’s money.when the thieves are making laws to protect themselves it only becomes a three ring circus: the festival for the fools to gawk at.

    • Johnny Saint says:

      Due process should be observed. That’s a part of the system as well. But government should be held accountable if the process takes decades before the accused sees the inside of a courtroom. Lengthy deliberations aren’t fair to the accused or the people to whom the government are responsible. Furthermore, as is often the case, the accused public officials are able to stay in office to continue business as usual while investigations linger. In principle, “innocent until proven guilty” should be observed. Otherwise the assumption of guilt should be applied to everyone. It will be chaotic to assume one standard of guilt for politicians simply because you have a pathological mistrust of government and the presumed innocence of ordinary citizens for the same reason. It speaks more of personal bias and bigotry than any real interest in the pursuit of justice.

      • Glenn says:

        No, not a pathological mistrust of politicians. The other way around, it is the pathological thievery of the parasitical politicains that must be stopped, not the mistrust of politicians.there is not enough of that.u want justice, do ya? go stand under a jeepney. u want justice? that is laughable.
        speak to someone else John, ur insults are tiring. Bigot, ur ass!

      • Johnny Saint says:

        Apparently that’s Glenn’s answer to everything that he disagrees with. Threaten violence and then play the victim. Peppered with profanity. But Glenn has never offered any proof other than his unwavering conviction that somebody’s stealing. In fact that’s the way most of his posts go. Long on passionate ranting, unsubstantiated claims and foul language in an attempt to beat every other commentator into submission. Rarely with any proof.

      • Glenn says:

        no one threatened anyone jackass!!! nor did I claim to be a victim. since you are not capable of quoting people, not just me , accurately kindly refrain from commenting o what I DO NOT say. WTF, r u gonna stalk me now? just because you did not AMEND ur statement in the other article to read “INCOME” taxes, in which case you MIGHT have been correct?, but you did not and therefore you were, in fact , wrong.
        Talk to the Virtual Vigiante if you want an education on what should be done. I do not have time to waste on your sorry ass.
        You mis-quote, take out of context and draw conclusions from what you think someone means, when ,in fact, they do not.You continually do this and are pretty annoying. I would feel sorry for you, but your constant insults prohibit any thought of excusing your delusional ass. You think you are smart but are really just opinionated about whatever it is you think you know.

      • Johnny Saint says:

        For the record, Glenn, you incredibly delusional imbecile, when you asked where I got the data on income tax distribution in the article you mentioned, this is what I wrote:

        “The income tax statistics provided by the IRS (quoted in the Wall Street Journal) shows that for the year 2008, the top 1% of taxpayers — those with salaries, dividends and capital gains roughly above about $380,000 — paid 38% of taxes. The top 5% — those with adjusted gross income of $159,619 — paid 58.72% of Federal Income Taxes. Expanding the sample to the top 10% the percentage of Federal Income Tax paid was 69.94%. All told, the top 50% paid 97.3% of the taxes collected. The bottom 50% — those with adjusted gross income of less than $33,048 — paid a paltry 2.7% of taxes collected.”

        Then you post this:

        “…just because you did not AMEND ur statement in the other article to read ‘INCOME’ taxes, in which case you MIGHT have been correct?”

        Glenn, stop fabricating LIES to try to fit your narrative.

        And you made a big deal about how you didn’t bother to read the comment but felt the need to rant anyway based on false assumptions. How utterly stupid!

        Now you play the stalking victim in an open forum. Because you are incapable of carrying on a spirited debate without looking foolish? Pathetic.

        “…just cut the damm hand off” isn’t a reference to violence? (By the way it’s spelled “damn” not “damm.”)

        The point of contention was your penchant for an anarchic solution to the problem of graft and corruption. It disregards the rule of law and replaces it with the preposterous notion that wielding force is justified because those who wield that force were somehow wronged. Because of the blind assumption that some politicians are corrupt. You don’t even bother with evidence to prove guilt. And then there’s the idea that we should curtail certain rights for people who enter public service. Would you feel the same if the law were applied arbitrarily to you? What’s next? Will we cut off your legs for jaywalking? Or going above the speed limit? Isn’t driving a car a social responsibility that affects other people more directly than whatever folly lawmakers are wasting their time on in congress?

        That isn’t the way to build a stable and benevolent government. You can’t frighten people into becoming smarter voters or wiser leaders. The communists tried it and look how that turned out. It’d be easier to cure cancer than to instill moral virtue and social responsibility into a person who doesn’t have it, doesn’t want it, and resents having the burden thrust on him. Each person in the society has to develop these “higher” virtues himself; if he has them forced on him, he will likely vomit them out.

        Like it or not, history has proven to us that “force” or authority must be equal with responsibility. That is why a relatively free society under a rule of law — as opposed to an absolute tyranny, or an unlimited democracy — has created societies with high productivity and high living standards, lower crime rates and where personal freedoms are recognized and personal responsibility is accepted. It isn’t perfect, it may not work all the time, but it works satisfactorily.

      • Glenn says:

        and u just will not stop, I am not reading ur response which probably says something brainy about ur 2nd, 3rd or 10th reply to me in the last article and how you did say whatever it is you said,
        LOW SELF-ESTEEM SUFFERER, get over it!
        NOW HEAR,and be sure of, THIS: I AM NOT READING IT JACKASS!!

      • Johnny Saint says:

        “… I am not reading ur response…”

        And yet you feel it appropriate to rant and resort to name calling. After admitting you didn’t bother to read responses to your post and have absolutely no clue as to what you are ranting about. Petulant and delusional.

  5. Glenn says:

    ‘falling prey to dirty politics’,HA! as if he has not?

    the ‘burning at the stake’ of the clown, who did not answer a single question at his trial, was anything but a ‘buring at the stake’.the guy walked away un-scathed and has never had to account for the large amounts of money he apparently had/has, nor has he seen fit to give any of it back nor explain the flip-flopping of the decision that affected the workers entire lives and how that decision was flip-flopped after a hefty deposit was made in his accounts. No, he answered not a single question and is still a free man.

    the author is correct in assessing the situation as an ‘institutionalized wealth concealment’, but may be missing the broader issue: that none of the ‘suspects’ are innocent and that it is more like an
    ‘institutionalized criminal enterprise’, so vast and encompassing as that any stone that is over turned will produce more of the ‘enterprise’.
    A governor speaking before the senate said that if the FOI were to be enacted the entire congress would be ‘targets for extortion’. Now if reading between the lines is too complicated well I will not spell it out. BUT when a person of that rank says something like that it is an indication of just how vast and far-reaching the ‘conspiracy’ is. Those involved will stop at nothing to see to it that such a law is NEVER enacted, and it will not be.

    at a recent ‘blue-ribbon’ panel(ugh, just fuckin sickening) the auditor of the GOCC’s declared that the reason the GOCC’s had not declared its taxes, or documentation in 4 years the answer was that they had not gotten to it. When asked by a senator if they needed someone to ‘oversee’ the taxation and auditing of the GOCC’s the answer was “No’ and nothing further was said on the matter.Holy Shit!

    At this point there is no hope to release the strangle hold that has been put on every bit of the wealth of the entire country(taxes, GOCC’s that should benefit ALL the people not just those who control it, Utilities etc,etc) by the hands of the few. the entire system is rotted from the inside and their is no way to stop it (Well there is ONE way!). The PCIJ or whoever is doing these nvestigations best beware when they go to start their cars in the AM.

    the country is doomed, if one is not part of the elite it is advisable to just leave and NEVER come back.

  6. In the Philippines as in some other countries in the world,business and politics go hand in hand. If you are in business you need a political clout to protect your business interests. And the reverse is likewise true: if you are a politician, you have all the chances in the wide world to dip your fingers to any business ventures you might be interested to invest in.

  7. eduardo says:

    Any buzz of PNoy having a offshore account? Answer:NONE. Only proves that he is a clean statesman.

    • Libertas says:

      Who knows – there are still 498 filipino politicians/personalities to be exposed.

      So much for being clean when you transfer your hacienda luisita shares to your sister, and hide your porsche in a friend’s garage, and then tell everyone you have sold them. A liar is no different frim a cheat.

      Clean as a public toilet.

      • eduardo says:

        They are old controversies which have been answered and closed. Despite the attempt of destroy the reputation of our president through pointless theories, we, the Filipinos still believe him.

      • Libertas says:

        they were never answered.
        only attempts made by the palace trolls to close the discussion.
        the truth subsequently came out which made p-noy look even more of a liar and hypocrite

      • WinterSoldier says:

        Closed just because PNoy and his allies are paying their media friends to make things lok good. And so morons like you would still believe in the Aquino Hype Machine.

        Sorry, but PNoy being a ‘clean statesman’ is a farce. That’s because the media that are allies with him won’t look critically on their mistakes, including the current president’s ineptitude. See the bias?

      • Johnny Derp says:

        The troll thinks his pwecious president is clean.
        HAH! If he’s so clean, how come his PORK BARREL is so high?
        How come he keeps protecting his corrupt KKK?
        Sige nga, sagutin mo nga or are you too CHICKEN to do so?

        TROLL HARDER you dumb twat

      • Gogs says:

        Why believe someone who has never done anything worthy of belief? For fifty years he just sat there. Noynoy is like wallpaper. He was just there.

      • Johnny Saint says:

        At least wall paper does the job of putting up a beautiful finish on the wall surface. Can’t imagine using BS Aquino to spruce up a room.

      • Johnny Derp says:

        I’d mount Aquino AND eduardo’s heads on my wall with a plaque that says..”the retarded dumbass “president” and his gay twat of a lover”.

    • Johnny Saint says:

      So — you are suggesting that THERE IS a secret bank account but no one has revealed evidence if it yet?

      • Johnny Derp says:

        Eduardo’s unusual silence only means one thing, Aquino has something to hide.
        Looks like the twat has betrayed his master in malacanang by implying that aquino has a secret bank account that is yet to be revealed.
        Nice job breaking it, eduardo

        Troll harder

  8. eduardo says:

    Wow Libertas and Johnny Saint, you deleted my comments. Does that make you feel and look good?

    • WinterSoldier says:

      Because your comments are all TROLL comments. Yellow propaganda.

      What you did is BAD and you should feel BAD.

    • Johnny Saint says:

      You give us too much credit. I am not the webmaster here.

      You must admit that in lieu of any reasoned, credible arguments that will support your propaganda, you tend to resort to personal attacks and name calling.

    • Libertas says:

      I deleted nothing – but bravo. at least then your profanity and inane comments do not hang around and clog up cyberspace.
      But if your only contribution are meaningless slogans and motherhood statement without any attempt to have a dialogue, back up your comments or answer questions then you simply are an irrelevance and should be treated as such.
      North korea would welcome you if you get bored, or better still try to raise your level of knowledge.
      In other words grow up.

    • benign0 says:

      @eduardo: I deleted your comments. I’d delete this one too if it weren’t for the responses to it already on record.

  9. Johnny Saint says:

    Methinks the lady [eduardo] doth protest too much

    I apologize if I’ve offended your onion-skinned sensibilities. I did not mean to suggest wrongdoing without proof. That would be libelous.

    Merely a reflection, I suppose, of the general mistrust real Filipinos have toward politicians, sycophantic propagandists and cynical influence peddlers. Perhaps if your idol had any form of achievement to stand on other than inconsequential, unsubstantial non sequiturs he would be above reproach.

  10. Johnny Derp says:

    Eduardo’s a bonafide twat.
    The troll can’t even back up his posts with legit information.
    You are a joke eduardo, TROLL HARDER

  11. Glenn says:

    The thieves are out of control, have been for decades. It is more than time for a change, a complete change.
    the old man who gave P1 million gifts to his like-minded buddies at christmas time, what happened to him? if I did that I would not get out of prison for 20 years. but that guy? He just laughs at everyone and gets away with robbing the people.
    N e one still feel like voting? Ha, in a rigged election?

  12. Johnny Saint says:

    “Politicians disappoint us too much by protecting vested interests rather than the people. This is why politicians should serve two terms. One in office, one in prison.”

    Anonymous

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