Friday, October 31, 2014

A friend writes to Binay

By Ducky Paredes | October 22, 2014

The following was written to Jejomar Binay by Francisco Wenceslao, president of the Philippine Anticorruption Movement USA, Inc. (Pamusa):


As your friend since the time we joined Mrs. Cory Aquino’s campaign for president I feel obliged to let you know that as Pamusa’s president I will be involved in investigating, locating and recovering your ill-gotten wealth and of your family members and close associates or the private businessmen and individuals that colluded with you in amassing such unexplained assets beyond the statistical probability of your combined legitimate income since 1986 when you were named OIC in the Office of Makati Mayor. For clarification, Pamusa is eight years old now as a nonprofit California corporation authorized since 2007 by the US Department of Justice (USDOJ) of fighting corruption in our country under international cooperation agreements against corruption (ICAACs) of which the Philippines is a signatory such as the UNCAC, OECD, etc., hence they are parts of the law of the land. ICAACs are given focus and enforced under US laws and the US Government’s (USG) National Strategy to Internationalize Efforts Against Kleptocracy. Of course, under the PHL-USA Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) which enables cross-border investigation of corruption and narcotic trafficking, which if committed in the Philippines by a Filipino citizen, national or corporation is deemed committed also and actionable in the USA when the offenses are more serious in the latter, and vice-versa.

The USDOJ defines ill-gotten wealth as the proceeds of corruption from “a process or series of actions through which income of illegal origin is concealed, disguised, or made to appear legitimate (main objective); and to evade detection, seizure and taxation.” Hence, putting up dummies as owners of properties actually owned by another, family members or close associates cannot remain hidden because forensic audit and information technology advances can disprove false ownership claim in no time, more so when a dummy learns the legal problems he faces and immediately admits wrongdoing. 

It is now a fact of life that the USDOJ investigators’ ability to dig up hidden assets has been progressively enhanced which led to the downfall of corporate America’s big corporations, such as Enron, Worldcom, etc. including the world’s largest accounting firm, Arthur Andersen. Former high government officials in jail for graft and corruption include Peru’s former President Alberto Fujimori for 37 years for corruption, human rights violation and abuse of power; Guatemala’s ex-President Alfonso Portillo sentenced only last May to 6 years in US jail for laundering millions of dollars through American banks; Ukraine’s former PM Pavlo Lazarenko to 9-year in US prison; and several others. 

Recently added are the USDOJ’s forfeiture actions against an upscale house-and-lot worth over $700,000 purchased from the proceeds of corruption of South Korea’s ex-president Chun Doo-hwan’s, and the estimated $30-million assets in the US owned by the second vice president of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue that he purchased with proceeds of corruption.

Multinational companies such as Siemens, ITT, Daimler (maker of Mercedes Benz), Avon Cosmetics, Marubeni, etc. and large international banks such as the Union Bank of Switzerland, U.K.’s Standard Chartered Bank and the HSBC, etc. agreed to pay billions of dollars of fines rather than risk responsible officers be brought to court and sentenced to jail for the company’s or bank’s violation of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and related laws. HSBC thus far paid the biggest fine of $1.92 billion for alleged laundering drug cartel’s money and violation of banking regulations.

It is probable that Sen. Enrile, Estrada and Revilla, House members, their aides and other government officials involved in the pork barrel scams would go to jail at least for money laundering in the Philippines and the same in the US where parts of their kickbacks were most likely transferred, deposited in US bank accounts and spent in America which was illegal. Unbeknownst to many Filipinos, the US Treasury Dept.’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has databases in which all US financial transactions in banks, financing institutions, casinos, money exchanges, etc. are recorded.

If the evidence submitted by Pamusa to the FBI requires the agency to access FinCEN’s databases to find out that a target of investigation for corruption may have transferred and did not report amount of money deposited in US banks, the aggregate sum of account balances is forfeitable. This happened to Sen. Lito Lapid’s wife who was arrested of bringing to the US over $10,000 without reporting the money to customs and immigration authorities. When she was arrested and actually trying to smuggle $40,000 it was later found out she had 23 bank accounts in the Las Vegas area with aggregate deposit of $159,600 the court seized so she won’t go to jail. All the money in her name including the $40,000 plus the bank balances totaling $199,600 was seized and she was sentenced to 3-year probation with 5-month home confinement as conditions of her plea agreement.

The Lapids probably had employed dummies but disposed of them after they were easily exposed they could not afford a given property’s cost at the time of acquisition, its yearly taxes and maintenance especially in the US Random checking of a dummy’s financial condition even in the Philippines such as the earnings in a 5-year period matched with his ITR for the same period coinciding with the acquisition of a property in question almost always shows a big difference and fail the investigation of ill-gotten wealth.

I therefore decided to write this letter because, according to a Pamusa volunteer lawyer-CPA your witnesses in the Senate hearing if the same as the dummies of your US properties would bring you straight to jail if Pamusa sues you in the US like we intend to do against the members of Congress and others charged of involvement in the pork barrel scams masterminded by Janet Lim Napoles et al. as Pamusa’s contribution to the tightening USDOJ’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.

 Would you believe that the late Kokoy Romualdez left an estate worth $200 million? This may well be the question you would be asked when your doctored SALN for the 28-year “You’re King of Makati” is matched with your actual assets after DOJ-Ombudsman finished investigation at home and Pamusa has done our US investigation. Romualdez’s estate has not been touched because the Marcoses’ and other cronies’ ill-gotten wealth have been covered up by corrupting those tasked to recover them. But not for long though because a new ICAAC is coming next year when the Marcos’ and Romualdez’s heirs would be pleading to be allowed to keep at least 10% of their loot. 

More importantly to take note of with regards to the Philippine government (PHG) and businessmen is Presidential Proclamation No. 7750 issued by President George W. Bush in 2004, “To Suspend Entry As Immigrants or Nonimmigrants of Persons Engaged In or Benefiting From Corruption.” PP7750 basically says the US can suspend entry into the country “of certain persons who have committed, participated in, or are beneficiaries of corruption in the performance of public functions where that corruption has serious adverse effects on international activity” subject to an exception where denying such entry would be “contrary to the interests” of the US The Vice President or any of his children in public service may be denied entry to the USA if any one or all of you have probably committed, participated in, or benefited from corruption.

In this case, proof beyond reasonable doubt is not necessary because denying your entry to the USA is not contrary to its interests. A precedent has been set in 2006 by President GMA’s ex-agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn “Jocjoc” Bolante who defied a Senate committee’s subpoena to shed light on the loss of the P728-million ($16M) fertilizer fund. Bolante left for the USA via Seoul. He did not know that Sen. Magsaysay, committee chairman, asked the Senate President to petition the US Embassy to cancel Bolante’s US visa for defying the Senate’s subpoena powers with which the embassy complied while Bolante was on a flight for Los Angeles.

On arrival at LAX Bolante found out his US multiple entry visa was cancelled and he could not get out of the airport terminal. He was asked to board the next flight to Manila as an illegal entrant when an American lawyer made representation that Bolante would ask for asylum because his life was in danger at home. He was detained by immigration authorities at a US Customs and Immigration detention center in rural Wisconsin that he said only birds could be heard at night during his 2-1/2 years stay until his 3 appeal motions were heard and denied.

During Bolante’s incarceration a group of Filipino Americans organized Pamusa on Aug. 9, 2006 with me as the founding president after learning the ICAACs will enable PHDOJ and Pamusa to jointly fight graft and corruption at home.

Although authorized since 2007 by the USDOJ to work with and submit to the FBI evidence of corruption in the Philippines, the PHG’s attitude that something new is suspiciously with bad intention, birth pains, road bumps and potholes delayed Pamusa to be on track and help the Aquino administration’s “tuwid na landas” fight against corruption. Pamusa has had many “cooks spoiling the broth,” which we intend to remedy by launching a joint USDOJ-PHDOJ anticorruption program this month.

This makes it still possible to add to President Aquino’s legacy the conviction for tax evasion and unexplained wealth of several people led by dismissed Chief Justice Renato Corona, those involved in various scams such as Bolante, Napoles, Lito Lapid and former FG Mike Arroyo of the fertilizer fund fiasco and the senators and congressmen, et al. in pork barrel scams. A would-be state witness says a good portion of the P728-million fertilizer fund went to the construction of rental houses in Ayala-Alabang owned by a corporation organized by Bolante & Arroyo. The witness who claims to be an expert of organizing dummy corporations or individual dummies believes there might be hundreds of houses in Makati’s upscale subdivisions owned by top government officials from the proceeds of corruption in the names of dummies who are paid salaries and expenses for “ownership” of the properties in the records of Municipal and City Assessors’ and Treasurers’ offices, a few of whom are themselves in cahoots with property owners and dummies.

That is why President Aquino may add another legacy by an executive order directing the Secretary of Finance, Municipal and City Treasurers and Assessors, and all concerned to conduct an inventory of real properties and their owners which will include relevant information such as lot areas, improvement, acquisition cost, assessed values and estimated market prices, from whom acquired including the previous owners before the owner bought from, and other information and data relevant to national development planning. 

Finally, as a friend, I will be pleased to help you. However, I see your best option to avoid impeachment and dismissal from office is to give up aspirations to be President because unless you do so settlement of your ill-gotten wealth in which the full accounting of your true assets and net worth including those of your children will be out of the table is impossible to be accepted by reasonable people.

This may be the time to come to a realization that the era of unabated corruption and escaping retribution has passed by and never come again like the postal system replacing the Internet or going back to using radios instead of television. 


Readers who missed a column can This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Binay-Trillanes Debate

One of the first callers upon my arrival from California was my barber. He wanted my views on the upcoming debate between Vice President Jojo Binay and Senator Sonny Trillanes.  He says, “It is a hot topic at the barbershop.”


Senator Sonny Trillanes and VP Jojo BinaySenator Sonny Trillanes and VP Jojo Binay

Vice President Binay has been on a hot seat for sometime because a Senate Blue Ribbon Sub-committee chaired by Senator Koko Pimentel has been investigating the alleged over-pricing of the construction of the Makati Parking Building during his term as Mayor of the premier city. Subsequently, the investigation revealed more alleged over-pricing of other projects resulting from alleged bid rigging as testified to by witnesses who used to be allies of Binay and who had personal knowledge.

The 350-hectare land dubbed as “Hacienda Binay” also came into play as revealed by his former Vice Mayor ally. Pictures of the hacienda, garden, air-conditioned piggery, and guests visiting the place as hosted by the Binays are certainly worth a thousand words.

Binay has been invited by the Senate Blue Ribbon Sub-Committeeto appear and answer all the charges hurled by the witnesses. He refused, accusing the investigation as a “kangaroo court”.  He preferred responding through Press Conferences and Press Releases.

According to the surveys, about 70% of the people would like him to appear at the Senate hearing and defend himself. The accusations resulted in the decline of his satisfactory and performance ratings substantially. It is expected to continue falling threatening his presidential ambitions unless he does something to arrest the decline.

This must be the reason why he decided to challenge Senator Sonny Trillanes to a debate. Why Trillanes? Why not Senator Cayetano or Pimentel who are also in the sub-committee?

Was it wise for Binay and his close advisers to challengeTrillanes? Did they actually expect Trillanes to accept as he did?

Unlike Cayetano and Pimentel who are proven to be brilliant lawyers and debaters in the Senate, Trillanes is a military/naval officer whose prowess is exhibited in actual battles. Academically he obtained a MastersDegree in Public Administration from the University of the Philippines. He is no pushover, unafraid to face legal luminaries and experienced politicians like Senator Enrile in Senatorial debates re the China issue.

Logically, the Binay camp probably thinks that Trillanes is easier to beat.

Binay and his drumbeaters could be wrong. It seems that Trillanes would benefit the most. Let us analyze.

Propaganda/Public Perception: The expose on Binay at the Senate hearings were televised and reported by the mainstream and the social media. Interested parties could also watch it at You Tube. But the scope and audience were quite limited. The Binay-Trillanes debate would be televised, broadcast by radio, streamed, and published by all the networks and publications nationally, internationally, and locally.  The allegations of corrupt practices in Makati by the Binays would now be known nationwide and worldwide.

Trillanes said that he is confident because the Truth is on his side. In argumentation and debates, what he really means is that “Arguing against facts is an invalid inference” (Argumentum contra factum non valet ilatio). Binay will be forced to argue against the testimonial evidence presented by credible witnesses who have personal knowledge of the alleged over-pricing and bid rigging. They are credible because they admit participating in the scheme and testifying against their own interests. Binay will be forced to argue against facts and figures that are public record and undeniable. Binay will also be arguing against images and perception that are hard to erase in the minds of people.

In short, Binay will be debating not only Trillanes but also people in the know, direct participants, undeniable public records, photos, and perception of a whole nation.

Personality: By challenging Senator Trillanes, Binay either elevated Trillanes to being a presidential or vice presidential timber or in the process actually downgraded himself. By accepting the challenge, Trillanes put himself in an unbelievably high level expecting to put Binay down the level of a Makati Mayor as he raises the issues of corruption.

Remember, this is television. This is a debate between an incumbent Vice President who was an experienced human rights lawyer and a Senator who was a military officer.

This is also a debate between Binay who is 72 years old and Trillanes who is 43 years young.  On television, it would show who is Tall, Dark, and Handsome. My barber says, “Binay may not be Tall, but he is definitely Dark, and quite Handsome to some of his lady followers. Another barber says, “Trillanes may not be as Dark, but he is definitelyTaller, and very Handsome to many”.

But television will decide. The Kennedy-Nixon debate was a case in point. Kennedy on television was too handsome to lose. In the last US presidential elections debate, Texas Governor Perry had a mental block. He was in his early 60s in age. I hope it does not happen to him but Binay is 72.

Pity or Presidential: Presidential front-runner Binay is also in a dilemma. He could either try to obtain sympathy from a nation who elected him Vice President by using the Pity technique being a victim of unwarranted investigations, or by acting Presidential. If he uses the former, he would look weak and not presidential. If he uses the latter, he would look arrogant displaying his legal prowess and experience over young Trillanes. His over-confidence as shown in his challenge could actually “kill” him. (Sobra compiansa mata el hombre)

Trillanes seems to have the advantage of an underdog. If he is able to show some legal skills without being a lawyer, accounting skills without being an accountant, and some engineering, architectural, design, and other knowledge without the necessary formal training as well as with plenty of common sense, in proving the corrupt practices in Makati, Trillanes would prove that Binay made the most grievous error in challenging him.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Hillary Clinton and Bruno Mars in One Day!

I am in San Francisco attending the Dreamforce 2014 Conference. I finished Day 1 and Day 2 culminating with the Gala Concert featuring Filipino American artist Bruno Mars.
Day 3 and Day 4 of the Dreamforce Conference are still to come as I write this column. I intend to be more detailed after I finish the entire conference.
Last week in my other column, Tech It From My Barber, I quoted Algoworks, an attendee of Dreamforce 2013, “Dreamforce promises a learning experience that can boost how you operate your business, help you create new business connections, provide solutions to problems that you want it sought quickest, and of course lots of fun- all jam packed within a time frame of glorious 4 days.”

In just two days, I already have a similar impression. But I like the fact that outside of the role of in helping businesses expand and creating new ones with its Customer Success Platform, it is involved in giving back to the community.

Salesforce is homegrown – founded in San Francisco. So is Dreamforce. It is not surprising that many of its charitable projects are in the city involving the community and the government.

Fighting hunger is a focus, for example. A million meals have been distributed and expect a million more after the conference.

Fighting for the future is another focus. Educating the children is a great weapon in this battle. After all, they are our future.

The choice of Hillary Clinton as a Keynote Speaker signifies that Dreamforce 2014 is very serious in fighting for the future. A known strong advocate for the education and healthcare of children either as a lawyer, a former First Lady of Arkansas, a former First Lady of the United States, a former U.S. Senator, and former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton was the right leader and partner of the Salesforce Foundation in a battle affecting the future.

With Clinton, the focus of the war for the future would not only be citywide, countrywide, but also worldwide.

It would be even be better if she becomes the first woman President of the United States.

In her Keynote, Clinton talked about educating the children by reading and singing to them. She says, “The word gap leads to an achievement gap & has lifelong consequences.” Increasing the vocabulary of children by reading to them also leads to creativity and increases achievement motivation among them.

She described how she and her husband, former US President Bill Clinton, used to read to Chelsea. She also sang to her until Chelsea was old enough to complain and stop her from singing.

After her speech, she distributed bags full of children’s books donated by Scholastics and other learning materials for parents to read to their children.

She actually spoke about various topics that also interested me – Net Neutrality, Philanthropy in Technology, Corporate Responsibility or Ethics, among others. She is a firm believer of “open Internet” and Ethics being as important as electronics.

Those topics are obviously relevant in winning the future as well.

The Keynote Speech of Salesforce President Marc Benioff was as interesting. Expectedly, he talked about the new products and technologies of his company. I find the “Wave” and “Lightning” app and operating platform, respectively, very interesting and useful to customers and businesses.

All of us in the audience were amazed by the demo on “Lightning” through the speed of delivery of 3 bottles of Coke from a San Francisco warehouse to Moscone Center, Halls A & B within minutes and in our eyes. How? DRONE!

Of course, his Keynote also highlighted Salesforce Foundation’s partnership with the San Francisco City Government and the SF Unified School District System. His guests included, Mayor Ed Lee of San Francisco, Superintendent Richard Carranza and Principal Lee of the Unified School District. They all talked about how the SF-SF (Salesforce and  San Francisco) partnership proved to be very successful. The $5M donation, the installation of Wi-Fi in all the schools, the computers, and the training of teachers were instruments to a winning battle for the future especially for the 90% socially and economically disadvantaged kids.

The Keynotes of Clinton and Marc Benioff as you can see were not only “talk the talk”, they were also “walk the walk.”

Will.I.Am was also there. His life story is quite interesting as a successful Musician, Entrepreneur, and Philanthropist. He is in fact launching at the conference a new wearable technology product. He merits a separate and longer article later.

In between presentations, we were being entertained by the Beach Boys. After that they continued playing at Moscone Center’s Plaza where Dreamforce 2014 attendees just relaxed, ate free food and drinks, and listened.
Dreamforce 2014 registered more than 146,000 attendees. Most of them went to the Bruno Mars Concert at the Civic Center. Part Filipino, he makes me proud. Everybody was rocking and shaking! It was too packed to roll!

The event was dubbed as a UCSF (University of California San Francisco) Children’s Hospital Benefits Concert - also health and education oriented tool for the future.

Bruno Mars played the greatest of KEYS and sang the best of NOTES!

This KEYNOTE of the evening made my day!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Dr. Manny Pacquiao for VEEP?

My barber called to tell me about the recent discussions at the barbershop. He was wondering what my views were on the following:

First, on the latest news that “some members of the United Nationalists Alliance (UNA) are pushing for the Jejomar Binay-Manny Pacquiao tandem for the presidential elections in 2016;”

Second, on the rumor that Binay and UNA are now supporting an amendment to the Constitution; and

Third, that Pacquiao’s qualifications for the second highest office of the land include a doctorate degree.

On the first - I heard the same news. There are UNA members who are really pushing for it. These are smart and knowledgeable people who know the law.

Vice President Binay also indicated that he is “open to the idea 
noting how Pacquiao has shown his willingness to help and leadership as representative of Sarangani. “

"At ang importante sa lahat maka-Diyos at makabayan," added Binay of Pacquiao. (The most important of all is his being Pro-GOD and Pro-Country).

Binay, as we know, is a lawyer who is also presumed to know the law.

The Philippine Constitution provides under Article VII:

“Section 2. No person may be elected President unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, a registered voter, able to read and write, at least forty years of age on the day of the election, and a resident of the Philippines for at least ten years immediately preceding such election.
Section 3. There shall be a Vice-President who shall have the same qualifications and term of office and be elected with, and in the same manner, as the President. He may be removed from office in the same manner as the President.”
I told my barber that under the current Constitution, Manny Pacquiao is not qualified to run for Vice President in 2016. He must be at least 40 years old on the day of the election. He was born on December 17, 1978, meaning is currently 35 years old and will only be 37 by the May 2016 elections.

But why are Binay and some UNA members even seriously considering it? They should have known that he is not qualified.

This brings us to the next issue.

“Is this why they are now open to amending the Constitution?” my barber asked. “Changing the age qualification for President and Vice President would allow Pacquiao to run as Binay’s running mate,” answering his own question.

They would make an interesting team in the 2016 Presidential elections. It would be a combination of Human Rights Lawyer (Binay) and a Doctor of Humanities (Pacquiao).

My barber reacted with passion, “Pacquiao only completed an elementary education and obtained a high school diploma from the Department of Education for passing a high school equivalency exam. Yes, he enrolled for college, but never obtained a college degree. How can he have a doctorate?”

My barber who earned his college degree while cutting hair and making hairline distinctions did not know this - that Pacquiao was conferred the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humanities (Honoris Causa) by Southwestern University (SWU) in Lahug, Cebu City “in recognition of his boxing achievements and humanitarian work.” That’s why he can be called Dr. Manny Pacquiao.

Why the sudden interest in Pacquiao as a running mate for Binay? The barbers are unanimous in their view – UNA and Binay would like to ride on the popularity of Pacquiao as a champion boxer, not for anything else.

According to the recent survey conducted by Pulse Asia those who prefer Binay as presidential candidate in 2016 is now down to only 31% - a 10% decline from the last survey. His approval ratings also went down by 15% also according to another Pulse Asia survey. The trend is for it to decline further as investigations on alleged overpricing and corrupt activities in Makati during his term and those of his family continue.

Could Dr. Pacquiao help arrest or cure this decline?