Wednesday, February 25, 2015

ABCD: Alphaland–BSP Controversial Deal

The Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP) - Alphaland deal is basically a Joint Venture Agreement involving a real estate owner and a developer.  BSP contributes the land while Alphaland will handle all the Construction, Financial and Marketing costs.  BSP retains ownership of the land.

BSP's contribution was initially valued at P600 million while alleged cost of the total project is P5 billion. With this valuation, the split became 15-85. 

Why 15-85? The standard is from low 20-80 to high of 30-70.  As my barber says, “naLUGI sa MaLUGI property ang BSP.”

BSP’s land was used as a collateral to secure the mortgage of P1.7 billion incurred by Alphaland.  Didn’t Ongpin and Oreta say that Alphaland would absorb all the financial risks? Suppose Alphaland fails to pay. The land will be foreclosed and BSP will end up with nothing.

Oreta asserts that it gave a corporate guarantee amounting to P600 million. Why only P600 million? The land could be worth more by then. If Alphaland’s corporate guarantee is so strong, why not guarantee the P1.7 billion directly instead of risking BSP’s land?

Under its charter, the power to mortgage BSP property is supposed to be with the National Executive Board. Did the mortgage approval include that of the Secretary of Education, Culture, and Sports who is a member of the NEB? How about the President of the Girl Scouts of the Philippines? I am curious.

Later on, the Joint Venture Agreement was amended to authorize the sale of BSP’s land to Alphaland for P600 million. Remember, this is the same land that was used to secure a P1.7 billion loan. It should have been worth more.

What did BSP do with the proceeds of the sale? It invested back to the project. What did it get? The same – 15-85 split. What? It was 15-85 split when BSP retained ownership of the land, and the same sharing but lose ownership?

Under its charter, the National Executive Board has the power “to dispose in any manner a part or the whole property of the corporation with the CONSENT IN WRITING and pursuant to an affirmative vote of two-thirds (2/3) of the members of the National Council.” Remember, this is not just by VOICE or SILENCE. It should be expressed in writing.

Questions: Was the CONSENT IN WRITING obtained from at least two-thirds (2/3) members of the National Council? Did the CONSENT IN WRITING include that of the Secretary of Education, Culture, and Sports? How about the President of the Girl Scouts of the Philippines?

The BSP land was reclassified from industrial to commercial (FAR 8) and later on FAR 12. Its original floor area of 10,000 sq. meters became 80,000 sq. meters and increased to 120,000 sq. meters. What did BSP get from it? Still the same – 15-85 split.

The Project (Alpha Makati Place), is pre-selling and collecting P500,000 as down payment. What is BSP getting? ZERO.

Alphaland is renting monthly from BSP starting from January 2014 to the present.  In a place where rental payments are usually made in advance, Alphaland paid the rents on January 23, 2015 – one day after the January Senate hearing and one year from start of occupancy.

How can a deal like this happen?  Let us look at the players. The entities involved are BSP, Alphaland, Makati City Council and Noble Care. The personalities are Bobby Ongpin, Babes Oreta, Gerry Limlingan, Atty. Avisado, Ernesto Mercado, and VP Jojo Binay.

Bobby Ongpin of Alphaland could not put this deal together alone. He hired Babes Oreta as an employee and partner to help him do it. The latter admitted paying him a salary and shares of stocks that is turning out to be worth over P500 million.  Babes could not do it alone either. They both needed somebody who could deliver both BSP and the Makati City Council.

For BSP, Ernesto Mercado and Atty Avisado would be good prospects. But Oreta did not know them personally and they do not have the clout and following to deliver BSP with its National Executive Board and National Council. For the Makati City Council, Ernesto Mercado did not have sufficient political support to take the lead. Gerry Limlingan is not connected with BSP and only works for VP Binay.

This leaves only VP Jojo Binay. First, he is a close friend of Oreta and known to Ongpin. Second, he is the National President of the BSP and got his people that initially included Ernesto Mercado, Atty Avisado and many of his fraternity brothers elected to the National Executive Board. Third, he controls the Makati City Council and the Makati government bureaucracy. Fourth, he has his loyal assistant and "financial wizard" Gerry Limlingan.

Ernesto Mercado has personal knowledge of the deal and the surrounding circumstances. He is now acting as a whistleblower. He was Binay’s Vice Mayor, BSP Senior Vice President and the signing front man. He is pointing to VP Binay as the actual and logical dealmaker. He accuses Binay of receiving a substantial amount of money that was used for his 2010 national campaign

Oreta owns Noble Care. The latter received all the 8.9 million shares worth over P500 million that Ongpin gave to Oreta admittedly as supposed compensation. He did not deliver the deal alone. According to Mercado, he had the help of VP Binay and company. They most likely shared but this time the split could be different.

Boy Scouts should watch out. “Laging Handa” (Be Prepared) for Scout Reforms. This could be your chance to “do a good turn daily”.

Be "brave, cheerful, clean, courteous, friendly, helpful, kind, loyal, obedient, reverent, thrifty, and trustworthy!"

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

PNoy and His GPS = Stay the Course

Tuwid Na Daan (Straight Path) is PNoy’s chosen roadway as President of his country and his people. Governing with Honesty and Humility, he earned Honors for the Philippines, and is now currently raising Hopes for the Filipinos. 

True to his presidential campaign slogan, “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap” (No corruption, no poverty), he pursued a very aggressive Anti-Corruption Campaign that netted within a short period unbelievable and historical results. Nobody ever imagined that under his tenure top officials from the Legislative, Judicial and Executive departments would be accused of criminal acts due to dishonesty, “Wang-Wang mentality, and acts of arrogance and impunity. Many are now under detention.

I described and called these moves of PNoy and those in the government as his GPS (Grand Prosecution of the Sleazy), which is consistent with his fearless anti-corruption drive.

Forbes Magazine attributed the drive that actually reduced corruption in the Philippines as one of the five (5) fail-proof factors that will make the Philippine economy grow. The other four (4) are: Expenditures in Infrastructure; Relocation of expanding manufacturing facilities from China to the Philippines; and of course, Remittances by overseas Filipino workers.
Forbes Magazine however, also mentioned one (1) roadblock – Violence in Mindanao.

This brings us to PNoy’s other GPS – Genuine Peace Settlement. Pope Francis in his recent visit prayed for abundant blessings of Peace and Prosperity for the people of the Philippines.

The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro was indeed a major step in attaining a Genuine Peace Settlement (GPS). The next step is the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which would be the basis for more democratic, judicial and most importantly, peaceful processes in law enforcement and in conflict resolution. It would allow Muslims in the region to govern themselves autonomously according to their customs and traditions and to police their own ranks independently subject to local and national laws.

Both sides agree that this would eventually remove the remaining roadblock to economic growth and prosperity not just for Mindanao but also for the entire nation.

The recent events in Mamasapano, Maguindanao seem to derail the on-going efforts to attain PNoy’s other GPS – a Genuine Peace Settlement. What happened?

From what I heard and read (Philippine Inquirer), a plan was hatched to capture “dead or alive” two top terrorists namely, Marwan and Usman. Known as the Osama Bin Laden of Asia, the former carried a reward of $6 million while that of the latter $2 million. Warrants had been issued for their arrest for committing the crimes of murder, frustrated and attempted murders, and also for the bombing of innocent civilians not only in the Philippines but also in other countries. Marwan was a known expert in bombing. He also trained other terrorists in bomb making.

The elite Special Action Forces (SAF) was chosen to serve the warrants of arrest. Involved were 392 police commandos divided into groups who were positioned as early as 3 a.m. on Sunday, January 25, 2015. SAF Commander Napeñas said, “The plan was for a surgical operation of only 30 minutes. Targeted for the assault were four nipa huts in the village. Part of the assault force entered Marwan’s nipa hut at 4:20 a.m. Marwan woke up and started shooting thus - injuring some, but was killed by the police force instantly.”

Napeñas further said, “the exchange of gunfire brought Marwan’s security to action. As the policemen were about to pull out, they came under fire from all directions.”

The fight caused the untimely deaths of 44 SAF policemen and 18 Muslim rebels plus top terrorist Marwan. Usman was injured but escaped. When help eventually came, 11 wounded and 17 unharmed policemen were rescued. I understand that 7 civilians also died in the crossfire. Over all, 68 Filipinos and 1 Malaysian (Marwan) met their Creator during the skirmishes.

There are still several questions that need to be answered. It is also alleged that the killers of the SAF Fallen 44 could have violated International Humanitarian Law and/or Crimes Against Humanity. The latter is incorporated under Republic Act 9851.
The PNP’s Board of Inquiry is currently investigating all the facts surrounding the killings. CBCP President Archbishop Villegas suggested that a Truth Commission be set-up to gather all the facts. MILF Peace Panel Chairman Iqbal is amenable to a UN- appointed Truth panel.

Meanwhile, PNoy haters and naysayers are seeing the unfortunate killing of the SAF 44 as an opportunity to renew, or reinforce their unfulfilled dream of ousting the duly elected President.

Impeachment is politically not viable. A coup d’état is militarily unacceptable. Resignation is virtually impossible. People Power is practically unsupportable.

Most recently, through NTC, the following 5 Catholic leaders jointly issued a statement demanding PNoy’s resignation: Davao Archbishop Emeritus Fernando Capalla, Zamboanga Archbishop Romulo de la Cruz, Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, Naval Bishop Filomeno Bactol, Fr. Carlito Clase on behalf of Butuan Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos.

CBCP, which is made up of 99 active and 32 honorary bishops and other members, took a different view. Its President, Archbishop Villegas issued the following statement, “Before we have all the facts, however, the CBCP cannot morally join in the calls for his resignation, leaving this decision to his (PNoy) humble and prayerful discernment of his capacity to lead...”

Yes, the SAF Fallen 44 died, knowing that they were pursuing justice and peace. To honor them, PNoy declared a National Day of Mourning. He spent about 10 hours condoling with their surviving families. He declared them heroes in a Presidential Proclamation and awarded them “Medals of Bravery”. He committed to the families all the assistance accruing to them, be they pension, health benefits, education for the children and the donations that would be collected. Of course, he offered prayers by and appreciation from a grateful nation. As Commander in Chief, he assumed full responsibility!

They did not die in vain! They killed the Osama bin Laden of Asia – the $6 million terrorist Marwan, and wounded the $2 million terrorist Usman. The necessary and beneficial consequences of Marwan’s death are immeasurable. Also killed were 18 Muslim rebels. A total of 348 policemen who were involved in the operation returned home alive although 11 were wounded.

Blessed with wisdom while discerning that there can be no peace without justice, PNoy ordered Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to prepare criminal charges against those responsible for the carnage. On the table should be possible commission of Crimes Against Humanity.

In pursuing justice, PNoy’s GPS is a Genuine Peace Settlement. In pursuing economic prosperity, PNoy’s GPS is a Grand Prosecution of the Sleazy. In both cases, PNoy must stay the course!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Slingbox: Miracle in the Sin City (Part I)


 A few years before the end of the 20th Century I founded a company called First Convergent Communications Worldwide, Inc. (FCCW). It was basically an IT company that focused on the convergence of technologies that involved Text, Audio, Video, and Communications or what we now call Multi-Media.

We set-up offices in Manila, Philippines and introduced and virtually pioneered some new technologies in the Philippines. Most noted among them were: the eBook technology which was eventually adapted by Amazon’s Kindle; the wireless communications technologies of QUALCOMM and International Mobile Communications; the first email system (SYSCOM) for Radio Communications of the Philippine Islands (RCPI); the Cable TV set-top boxes of Jerrold and General Instrument and some choice contents; Bell Canada’s smart telephone system; an Irish Virtual Router technology; the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle or Drone technology; and a few more.

I attribute the discovery of these new technologies to attending the International CES shows in Las Vegas over the years, and some US Government-sponsored technology conferences in Washington, DC.

I always looked for new products and technologies that could be described by ordinary mortals as “Miracle, Magic, Mind-Boggling, and/or Mystery”.

When I found out about the Slingbox, I thought that it was unbelievably amazing! It satisfied my need to access my favorite Cable TV shows while traveling to Asia almost every other month. It was a product I needed to have.

From the Sling Media Website

This was about ten years ago.

I traced the founding inventors who were living in San Francisco, California at the time. I got Jason Krikorian who was also a lawyer and an alumnus of the University of Virginia. He called my phone in Virginia. I told him about my interest in introducing the technology in the Philippines as I have done for others in previous years. I said that there was also a built-in market targeting the Filipino Americans here in the US. I remember mentioning my direct connections with the top executives of the largest TV and Cable companies (ABS-CBN and Sky Cable) as well as the pioneer of the Cable TV industry, Senator Ramon Magsaysay, Jr.

We also discussed the Betamax Case involving the “Time-Shifting” doctrine and the viability, validity, and defensibility of Slingbox’s “Place-Shifting” principle.

In the case of the VCR, you are allowed to record via Betamax the videos that you subscribed to watch because you are just “shifting” the “time” to watch them. In the Slingbox, you are allowed to “shift” the “place” which is usually home to any place you want to. After all, you are paying for the subscription of all the shows 24 hours a day.

In fact, I tested this while I was in South Korea, Philippines, and some other places. I even demoed it before a group of Cable TV operators in a Starbucks Café in Manila watching some shows on my TV in McLean, VA. I also left a Slingbox in the Philippines so I would be able watch local shows there including some fights of Pacquiao which were shown for free. Of course, later on, some in Manila were able watch an HBO Pacquiao fight that I subscribed to watch at home.

I failed to follow up my telephone conversation with Slingbox founder Krikorian. My health problems (stroke) forced me to retire and close my operations in the Philippines. With my mental faculties unaffected, I worked on my physical recovery tirelessly. I never missed an International CES event since. But I now attend the event no longer as an IT Executive, but as a credentialed Member of the Press. Somehow, the latter has given me more and better access to the new technologies and the CEOs that launched them.

The feasibility of my business model for the Slingbox continues to be as good as ever. The targeted markets in the U.S. and in the Philippines are very ripe for a product like Slingbox and for the entertainment services that it could generate. The same model is applicable to other ethnic groups as well.

Since I was no longer traveling, I disconnected all my old sling boxes here in the U.S. and the Philippines. My experience in obtaining service support online has been bad and expensive. I heard that the technology has been sold to either Dish or EchoStar and my interest waned.

But when I attended the CES Unveiling in New York City, I saw the new Slingbox 500 being unveiled. Due to time limitations, I failed to talk to any person there that mattered. But my interest again perked up. So, I checked Sling Media’s website to find out if there was anything new. Indeed there was, but I wanted more details.

I registered to attend the International CES 2015 as a Member of the Press again. As such, I had invitations from PR Agencies of technology companies launching new products. One of them was from Carl DiOrio of Bob Gold & Associates PR Agency, representing Sling Media.

I responded to his invitation stating when I intended to visit the Sling Media booth. Agreed on the time and date, I was actually looking forward to meeting any senior officer of the company.

Carl DiOrio outdid himself. He got me a meeting with Michael Hawkey - Sling Media's Senior Vice President and General Manager; and Mark Vena who is currently Vice President of Worldwide Marketing at Sling Media, a division of EchoStar Corporation.

A sample product (Slingbox 500) for review was also sent to me a few days later. My review on the product is in my other column, “Tech IT From My Barber”. ( 

Monday, February 2, 2015

SAF Fallen 44: Wisdom and Discernment

Pope Francis just visited the Philippines and on the Guest Book at the Presidential Palace he wrote, “On the President and people of this beloved land of the Philippines, I ask Almighty God abundant blessings of wisdom, discernment, prosperity and peace,”


Indeed, it was WISE for the SAF Fallen 44 to:

1.              Execute a Court Order;
2.              Obey an Executive/Superior’s Order;
3.              Enforce a Warrant of Arrest;
4.              Fulfill a Secret Police Mission;
5.              Render Justice – for the murder, frustrated and attempted murders committed against several human beings;
6.              Stop the training of terrorists in bomb-making;
7.              Prevent the killing of hundreds if not thousands of Filipinos and other nationalities worldwide; and
8.              Participate in the global war against terrorism with Presidential blessing.

For these moves, the SAF Fallen 44 met their untimely deaths but not until after they had served the warrant of arrest and killed Marwan who obviously resisted. The latter is listed as one of the most wanted terrorists worldwide. In fact, the US State Department put up a Cash Reward of $6 million for his capture – dead or alive!  The other terrorist named Usman escaped. The Cash Reward for him is $2 million.

Reactions to the deaths were varied. Supreme Court Chief Justice Sereno was quick and on point. She ordered flags to fly at half-mast in courthouses across the country as the judiciary mourned the massacre of elite police forces in Mindanao. After all, the SAF 44 died enforcing a Court Order!

PNoy issued a Presidential Proclamation honoring the new heroes and scheduled a National Day of Mourning. He spent about 10 hours condoling with the surviving families. Everybody was unanimous in declaring the Fallen 44 as heroes - they “did not die in vain”.  Medals of Bravery were awarded to them. A Congressman even proposed that they be buried at the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani (National Pantheon for Heroes).

“The package of benefits for families of slain Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) troopers includes: lifetime pension, gratuity equivalent to one year salary, additional pension for the next five years, Pag-Ibig Fund death benefits, insurance benefits, and commutation of leaves,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a statement.  There was also a proposal to distribute the Cash Reward of $6 million to each of the surviving families.

As expected, PNoy haters and perennial naysayers found something to criticize the President with. Freely exercising their right to free speech, they considered PNoy’s absence during the arrival of the dead bodies inappropriate. Unfortunately, even some known supporters of PNoy echoed the criticism.

On issues relating to taste, and on questions of values and priorities, we usually do not argue.    Falling into it would be endless and practically useless.

Pope Francis prayed for PNoy and the Filipinos to have “abundant blessings of wisdom, discernment, prosperity, and peace.”


Discernment has been defined online as ”nothing more than the ability to decide between truth and error, right and wrong. Discernment is the process of making careful distinctions in our thinking about truth. In other words, the ability to think with discernment is synonymous with an ability to think biblically.”
To those who are blessed with discernment as prayed for by Pope Francis, 
the above-mentioned moves are not only wise but evidently true as well. They were definitely right, not wrong. I cannot see any facet of the policemen’s mission that can be described as false.

There are questions re “misencounter”, failure to coordinate with military and the MILF, secrecy and the like. A Truth panel to investigate is suggested. Perhaps the findings of the panel could result in a better discernment.

Of course, the implied goal of getting out of there alive and standing did not happen. PNoy would have preferred them to be strong and indestructible. But their fate should not diminish their heroism, patriotism, and display of valor.

Ironically, there is an attempt to declare their mission to be a botched-up job by critics and naysayers.  Trying to blame it on the superiors of the SAF Fallen 44 like PNoy and others in the chain of command would actually run counter to what was already proclaimed as a mission partially accomplished with the supreme sacrifices of 44 policemen.

Discernment also relies on quantitative analysis to arrive at truthful, wise and right judgments. The SAF Fallen 44 joined with 8 mission objectives. Except for a partial performance on one, all were accomplished. They arrested and killed Marwan but missed Usman who escaped. In the world of terrorism and in the eyes of the U.S. State Department, Marwan is worth $6 million in Cash Reward while Usman is worth $2 million.  This means the SAF Fallen 44 accomplished 75% of this mission objective.

It is true that 44 of our elite and courageous policemen gave up their lives. But they rendered justice for those murdered and victims of frustrated and attempted murders committed by Marwan. By killing him, they stopped more bombings and the training of terrorists in bomb making, hence – preventing the murder of hundreds if not thousands more innocent civilians. Most of humanity is indebted to their dying day.

Presidents and Heads of States have great and broad responsibilities. Their obligation is not limited to meeting the dead bodies of soldiers who were victims of the cruelties of war. Churchill and Roosevelt would have spent valuable time doing it during World War II. So did Nixon, Kennedy, and Johnson during the Vietnam War; and Bush I, Bush II and Obama during the Afghan and Iraq Wars. Did they?

The criticisms against PNoy were mostly based on WHAT IFs. The truth is, they are answerable more convincingly also by WHAT IFs because they are based on actual facts and indisputably defensible behind the power of logic.

WHAT IF PNoy is not President? Would the following among others have occurred?

1.     Detention of President GMA;
2.     Impeachment of Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Corona;
3.     Detention of former Senate President and Marcos’ Martial Law Administrator Enrile;
4.     Detention of Actor/Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla;
5.     Detention of Napoles and other Pork Barrel Scammers;
6.     Investigation of VP Binay and the overpricing of building construction in Makati.


Pope Francis also prayed for the Philippines to have abundant blessings of Peace. Jesus Christ was crucified and He died in order to bring Joy and Peace to Earth. So were many of his Apostles and followers who became Saints.

The SAF Fallen 44 died for Peace. Those who wish to derail the efforts of PNoy and the peace-loving Muslims to finally experience real peace in Mindanao should not be allowed to succeed.  

WHAT IF the PNoy haters and naysayers suddenly receive “abundant blessings of wisdom and discernment" for the sake of achieving temporal and eternal peace and prosperity as Pope Francis prayed for?