By Raïssa Robles
You see, Senator, as far as I can determine, you seem to have filed two.
One Statement of Asset, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN) – which you yourself referred to in your Thursday press conference – discloses your New York condo as “Real Property-USA” in the amount of P28,700,000.00 “as of December 31, 2011.”
The other SALN – which I obtained from the Office of the Senate Secretary in July last year – does not disclose your New York property at all. This SALN is also “as of December 31, 2011.” It merely states that you have “Equity in Real Property (Co-owned with brothers, etc.)” in the amount of P7,175,000.00.
I’ve tried since Wednesday to get answers from your staff about this, but I kept getting passed around. Or my calls went unanswered.
If you did file two SALNs, this raises several questions:
ONE – Is it possible to file two statements within one year? Or in your case – on the same day, the same hour and minute?
TWO – Was it a mistake?
THREE – Which is your real SALN for 2011?
Until yesterday, I wasn’t sure you had filed two SALNs for the same year 2011 with the Office of the Senate Secretary. But now I am sure that was what happened. I don’t know how you or your staff did it.
UPDATE as of 9:30 PM, May 5, 2013
A commenter named “CK” posted moments ago a link to online news website Interaksyon to show that my copy of Sen. Legarda’s SALN is genuine. This is therefore Proof No. 3 that Legarda appears to have filed two SALNs for 2011. To read, please click on this link.
Let me explain to readers why this subject is very important.
Or rather, I will let you explain it in your own words in a remark you gave on May 29, 2012 explaining why you voted to convict then Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona.
“I hold that public and truthful disclosure of assets, liabilities and net worth by a public official is a key and fundamental element of governing through the norms of transparency and accountability and a centerpiece principle of democracy. Disclosure of SALN is the only window by which the public can judge whether or not we have undeservedly enriched ourselves in public office. Through it, we, as public officials, earn public trust. Public trust is not simply an administrative entitlement by those in government.
“Sa dinami-rami po ng mga argumentong legal, ebidensiya at pati na po ng napakaraming PowerPoint presentations na inilatag ng prosekusyon at mg depensa sa paglilitis na ito, isa pong kaso na hinatulan ng Korte Suprema noong 1997 ang tumawag sa aking pansin. Ito po ay ang kaso ng isang kawani ng hudikatura, isang interpreter sa Regional Trial Court na siyang tinanggal sa serbisyo dahilan sa hindi niya nadeklara ang kanyang negosyo sa palengke sa kanyang SALN.
“Kung ang ating mga batas tulad ng Republic Act 6713 ay nagpaparusa ng dismissal sa isang ordinaryong kawani ng gobyerno sa paglabag ng mandato upang maiwasan ang katiwalian, wala po akong nakikitang dahilan para po hindi ipatupad ang parehong batas na ito sa isang Punong Mahistrado.
We are all guided by the basic principle of equal application of the law.
And in Thomas Jefferson’s own words, “It is certainly for the good of the whole nation–to deal law and justice to all by the same rule and the same measure.”
“I therefore vote for removal from public office. I vote to convict.
It was actually the Corona trial — and speeches like yours — which prompted me to check if the senator-judges actually followed the principles of disclosure the SALNs are supposed to uphold.
Throughout last year I was receiving tips about the existence of US properties of some top Philippine government officials, including senators. And so I obtained the SALNs of all the senators from the Office of the Senate Secretary.
But there was so much news on other events – such as the death of Secretary Jesse Robredo, the Scarborough Shoal standoff with China, the Cybercrime Law and the Reproductive Health Law – that I never got around to doing the investigative reports.
One of the tips I received in April last year was from “Steve”, who is based in California, about Senator Loren Legarda’s New York property.
I asked a Filipino based in New York to actually check it out for me. The Filipino told me afterwards:
“I went to the apartment today, and the doorman confirmed she (Legarda) lived there and he saw her last 2-3 months ago…At any rate, the building is not fancy, and she has a one-bedroom, nothing scandalous.”
At that time, the Filipino who checked out Legarda’s property was apparently unaware how historic and much sought after a condo in that building was. This building, known as The Griffon, was even featured in the prestigious Wall Street Journal.
Who is “Etcetera?”
I was still bothered by the fact that Legarda had not disclosed the New York condo in her SALN which she had filed at the height of the impeachment trial. But I needed to get her side before I could publish it.
I suspected that the entry in her SALN which said “Equity in Real Property (Co-owned with brothers, etc)” was supposed to allude to that posh NY apartment.
But the numbers did not add up. I knew she had only two brothers. So who was “Etectera”? Was this “Etcetera” one or two persons?
She claimed as her portion of the ownership the amount of P7,175,000. At that time when she bought the US$700,000 property in May 2006, the exchange rate was P52.127 per dollar. That made the acquisition cost P36,489,110.
Since the word “Co-owned” was used in her SALN, let’s just assume that each of the co-owners co-owned the same portion as she did – which is P7,175,00. By dividing the purchase price by P7,175,00, we get FIVE as the result. This would seem to indicate that there are FIVE co-owners of the condo.
This was one of the things I needed to clarify before I could publish the piece.
Last Wednesday, May 1, someone told me there was a YouTube video on Legarda called “Lady Corona”. I watched the video and saw part of the story I had wanted to write for so long. I was scooped. Sorry, Steve – all your hard work down the drain.
But I was bothered by something the video stated.
The video showed “Annex A” of Legarda’s 2011 SALN. It was very different from the copy I had obtained from the Senate in July 2011.
Here is “Annex A” as shown in the video:
Here is “Annex A” of Senator Loren Legarda’s 2011 SALN which I had obtained last year:
I was finally able to get in touch with Yvonne, Legarda’s Chief-of-Staff, that same day and told her I had a copy of the senator’s SALN for 2011 and the New York property was not declared there.
I asked Yvonne to confirm whether Sen. Legarda had a New York property; whether she had declared this in her 2011 SALN; and how much the purchase price was.
Yvonne replied that Senator Legarda owned a property in New York but she (Yvonne) did not know the acquisition price. Yvonne stressed that Senator Legarda had been declaring the property “since 2007.”
I asked Yvonne to e-mail me an official copy of the Senator’s 2011 SALN. Yvonne replied that would be difficult since they were out of town campaigning. I said I would wait and asked her to e-mail me the SALN as soon as she got back to Manila.
Yvonne never did. I phoned her several times but she did not pick up.
To my surprise, Senator Legarda held a press conference the next day, May 2. She referred to the same 2011 SALN featured on the “Lady Corona” video.
According to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Legarda told the media she bought the property while still married to former Batangas Governor Antonio Leviste. However, the documents that Steve and the Filipino in New York gave me last year showed that Legarda was the SOLE OWNER of the property. This was even though under Philippine law, the property would automatically be a conjugal one, unless she had a pre-nuptial agreement with Leviste.
Elsewhere, she was quoted as saying that her two brothers and father were also co-owners. But again, that is not reflected in the documents filed with the NY Registry Office that were pointed out to me last year. Does she have any legal document that would show mere co-ownership of this property to clarify the document below showing sole ownership:
In her May 2 press conference, Senator Legarda also released a “Certification” signed by an accountant and “Noted/Reviewed” by two lawyers – one from giant accounting firm SGV, the other from prominent law firm ACCRA.
The Certification categorically stated the following:
♦ That Senator Loren Legarda disclosed in her SALN “as of December 31, 2011” her New York condo as “Real Property-USA” in the amount of P28,700,000.00 in Annex A;
♦ That as of December 31, 2011, Senator Loren Legarda disclosed “Liabilities [worth P21,525,000.00] to indicate the equity of the other Co-owners (in the New York condo), leaving the same amount of Senator Loren Legarda’s equity in the amount of P7,175,000.00.”
On May 4, Senator Legarda’s office e-mailed me. But it was not a copy of her SALN. It was the “Certification” and the official press release – which was also posted on the Senate website. It quoted Senator Loren Legarda as saying in her May 2 press conference:
“As of December 31, 2011 and December 31, 2012 the New York property was also included in my SALN described as “Real Property-USA.”
I was still mystified because my own copy of her 2011 SALN – obtained last July 2012 – did not have “Real Property-USA” anywhere in it.
Was I dreaming?
Philippine Daily Inquirer story gives me vital clues
Then on May 3 the Inquirer ran a story entitled “Legarda’s net worth was P47M for 2011.”
It was prepared by the Inquirer’s research section. A staff member of that section told me Friday that the story was based on an actual copy of Senator Loren Legarda’s 2011 SALN, which they physically obtained on May 2 from the Senate.
The Inquirer report said Legarda’s 2011 SALN stated the following figures:
Senator Legarda’s total assets (real, personal and other property) amounted to P68,553,755.
These consisted of:
Cash on hand and in banks – P7,963,190
Motor vehicle – P1,950,000
Jewelry, antiques and artworks – P8,000,000
Investment in shares of stocks in Manila Polo Club by Loren Legarda and Associates Inc. (LLAI) and Bai-A-Labi Corp. – P3,221,965;
Receivable from/advances in LLAI – P16,291,000
Private insurance – 2,427,600
Real property in the United States – P28,700,000
She also listed Liabilities amounting to P21,525,000 – which Inquirer said was “the equity of co-owners (father and brothers)” in the NY condo.
In this SALN, Senator Loren Legarda’s total assets amounted to P68,553,755.
The formula for calculating Net Worth is:
Assets – Liabilities = Net Worth
In the case of Legarda’s new 2011 SALN:
P68,553,755 Assets – P21,525,000 Liabilities = P47,028,755 Net Worth
However, in the old 2011 SALN that I obtained in July last year, Senator Legarda disclosed the following:
P45,680,650 Net Worth
In other words, the declared Net Worth in the 2011 SALN I got last year is P45,680,650.
The declared Net Worth in the new 2011 SALN is P47,028,755 or higher by P1,348,105 than the old 2011 SALN.
Comparing the two SALNs, the following amounts had changed:
Old SALN – Cash on hand and in banks –
New SALN – Cash on hand and in banks –
Senator Legarda’s cash went down by P3,998,105 in the new 2011 SALN. [NOTE: I inter-changed it. Sorry about that. Thanks for pointing this out. @Parkwind]
Old SALN – Jewelry, antiques and artworks – P11,000,000
New SALN – Jewelry, antiques and artworks – P8,000,000
Senator Legarda’s jewelry, antiques and artworks went down by P3,000,000 in the new 2011 SALN.
Old SALN – Receivable from/advances in LLAI – P15,941,000
New SALN – Receivable from/advances in LLAI – P16,291,000
Senator Legarda’s receivables went up by P350,000
Old SALN – Equity in Real Property (Co-owned with brothers, etc)- P7,175,000
New SALN – Real property in the United States – P28,700,000
Senator Legarda’s real property went up by P21,525,000
In addition, her Liabilities had also changed:
Old SALN – Liabilities – ZERO
New SALN – Liabilities – P21,525,000
Senator Legarda’s Liabilities went up by P21,525,000
Is Legarda’s new 2011 SALN notarized?
By the way, I asked a reporter who had attended Legarda’s May 2 press conference whether the senator had distributed copies of her 2011 SALN. The reporter said Legarda did not, although the media were asking her for it.
Inquirer was more enterprising, it seems. Its research section obtained her 2011 SALN on May 2. I asked a staff member of the Inquirer research section to describe to me features of the 2011 SALN they had obtained on May 2 and I found out the following:
ONE – Strangely, the new 2011 SALN was time stamped “received” on the same day, hour and minute as mine – “April 24, 2012, 5:30 pm.” It had no initials of the person who received the copy at the Office of the Senate Secretary.
Mine had initials:
TWO – the new SALN had no certification from a notary public.
THREE – It had no signature of Senator Loren Legarda to “certify to the best of my knowledge and information, that these are true statements of my assets liabilities, net worth…[and to] authorize the Ombudsman” to conduct any investigation pertaining to her SALN.
FOUR – In fact, the 2011 SALN released to the Inquirer consisted of only TWO PAGES, the staff member told me – the first page and the Annex. The page where the notary public and Legarda’s certification and signature are supposed to appear is missing.
In contrast, my own copy of her 2011 SALN had the following THREE PAGES.
I was able to track down the notary public – Crisante J. Del Mundo – who had notarized my copy of Legarda’s 2011 SALN. But he refused to talk to me.
I was told by a source in the Office of the Senate Secretary that senators can correct their SALNs provided this is done before the yearly April 30 deadline. When done after deadline, they have to follow a formal procedure – they have to write a letter stating that they are correcting their SALN and the SALN is stamped with a new date, “never the old date” when the first SALN was received.
In fact Sen. Legarda expressed personal knowledge about SALNs when she asked Corona’s lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas in March last year whether the Chief Justice would be amending his SALN. She told Cuevas then: “We know the law allows correction.”
In Legarda’s case, since the SALN now filed with the Office of the Senate Secretary is the same as hers, I had to find another way to show that she actually filed an earlier SALN – one that it seems she corrected and does not want people to know about.
Why this is so, I leave her to do the explanation.
Of course, there will be many accusations that the controversy over Senator Legarda’s SALN and her NY property is a “demolition job”.
My Proof that Sen. Legarda presented a new SALN for 2011
Is there any way of proving that the SALN I got last year is genuine, or at least not a fabrication? There is.
Last year on May 15 – or after the lapse of the April 30 filing deadline last year – one newspaper and one TV station came out with news reports on the senators’ SALNs.
Below is the report of BusinessWorld. Notice the last paragraph which said:
Meanwhile, Senator Miriam P. Defensor-Santiago listed a net worth of P69.694 million in 2011; Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” C. Sotto III, P58.920 million; Senator Loren B. Legarda, P45.680 million; Franklin M. Drilon, P44.937 million; Alan Peter S. Cayetano, P23.210 million; Manuel M. Lapid P23 million; Panfilo M. Lacson, P22.637 million.
Notice that Senator Legarda’s Net Worth is declared at P45.680 million – same as the SALN I have.
Now, below is the report of GMA News on the same topic:
Notice that Senator Legarda’s Net Worth is also placed at P45,680,650 – exactly the same as the copy I got in July 2012.
So why did Senator Legarda’s Net Worth of P45,680,650 as of the May 15, 2012 news reports, suddenly become P47,028,755 – just when she is being asked about her NY condo?
Numbers don’t lie.
The THREE most important questions to ask yourself in voting for senators
Senator Manny Villar and senatorial candidate Cynthia Villar own two California properties; Senator’s SALN does not list them
[…] Just days before the May 2013 polls, Cayetano and fellow re-electionist Senator Loren Legarda had a public spat after the latter hinted that the former is the one behind the revelations that she maintains an apartment in Park Avenue, New York – a property not declared in her Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth. Journalist Raissa Robles reported on this controversy through her blog. […]