Part 1 of two parts
Exclusive by Raïssa Robles
This is the first discovery I made after investigating the fund issue over the #palitbise rally extensively. In the course of the investigation I interviewed several people, including organizer Jimmy Bondoc.
The two other discoveries are:
First, during a press conference held on the #palitbise rally on March 23, 2017, Jimmy Bondoc’s group hid from the press the fact that the organizers were actually raising money for the rally through the crowdfunding platform, Gava Gives.
Second, during another press conference on March 28, 2017, organizers casually gave reporters payoffs amounting to P1,500 each – amounts which Jimmy Bondoc called “gas money”.
During this second press conference, it was only to PTV4 that Bondoc revealed that “donations” for the rally were coming in through Gava Gives.
From the PTV4 footage made available, it seems that neither Bondoc nor Mocha Uson, who was also present, announced during the press conference itself how Gava Gives was helping them raise money, where the donations were coming from and how much they had already raised.
You can view the PTV4 footage below:
BALITA: DAVAO Movement, pangungunahan ang pagtitipon sa Abril 2 sa Luneta
Posted by PTV on Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Two questions over the use of the rally funding remain unanswered. First, were did the people who performed during the rally paid a talent fee? Second, who really paid for the sound system, lights, stage and roofing?
Here is the breakdown of expenses Bondoc posted on Facebook:
4 April at 18:54 ·
939,115.04 pesos running tally.
The sound system, stage, lights,and roofing amounted to 230,000. Yung hotel na sinali ko sa expenses, hindi pala charged sa GAVAGIVES donations. Explain ko mamaya. Relax!
Here is the near-final tally. Bago kayo mag react, as we clarified nung una pa, ATTY BRUCE WAS ALLOWED BY THE DAVAO MOVEMENT TO COLLECT DONATIONS AMONG US MEMBERS DIN!
In short, we also gave donations. “Put your money where your mouth is”, DI BA?
Isipin niyo, kami na nagpa-rally, nag ambagan pa kami?? O !! Wala na namang maniniwala nyan o. Hay naku.
In short, lagpas pala ng konti sa 1M ang total cost ng rally. But we only used 939k from gavagives. The rest were internal donations from amongst us DAVAO MOVEMENT members din. Nag-ambagan kami kasi ng tig 10k. DUN NA NANGGALING ANG INCIDENTALS, LIKE HOTEL, GAS MONEY, ETC. I DON’T NEED TO DISCLOSE THAT. PERA NA NAMIN YUN, KAMING MEMBERS. Wala kayong pake dun. K??
1st coordination dinner meeting (March 24) for 40 people, including Parallel Groups and bloggers: 18,555
2nd meeting (March 27) for logistics team for 12 people: 5,060
Presscon expenses (March 28) :
Function room at hotel along Timog, including food good for 50 pax: 55,000.04 pesos
Reporters gas money: 22,500 pesos for reporters (approx. 18 reporters, bloggers, etc. Some returned the 1,500)
Downpayment for Food Caterer for Staff and Volunteers (paid on March 28 also) : 100,000
Downpayment for “VIP” caterer and Guest artists’ food: 40,000
Token fee for Luneta (just for the park cleaners) : 15,000 pesos. Rental was given Free of Charge by Mam Penelope.
Production Fees for all Film crew, production assistants, scriptwriters, projectionists, etc: 79,000
Genset : 20,000 with fuel
Barricades (100 pcs) : 30,000
10 Tents with aircon: 60,000 (impossible without aircon, possible heatstroke in this weather)
Balance for Catering for Staff, Volunteers, Police: 159,000 pesos.
This is due to the additional volunteers and security we got. There were more than 1000 volunteers backstage.
Motorcade, 100 pesos each, gas money for 350 riders: 35,000
Donation to parallel rally in Davao City: 20,000
SOUND SYSTEM, LIGHTS, STAGE, ROOFING:
Paki check ang math. Pero yan yun.
Nowhere does his post mention any payment of talent fees. The rally lasted seven hours, and there were several performers who sang.
Now, for the second question: who paid for the lights, sound system and roofing?
Before going into the nitty gritty, let me just say that my phone interview with Jimmy Bondoc, which lasted nearly two hours, was very civil and cordial. Contrary to what people say about him, Jimmy Bondoc the
comedian singer speaks English grammatically and fluently. He argues persuasively and sincerely.
He also gave me an insight into how the mind of a very ardent straight-from-the-heart supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte works. As I posted on Twitter, it was fascinating to interview him.
We agreed to disagree, especially on the issue of extrajudicial killings and on what he called “the war on (drug) statistics”.
That said, let me tackle my conclusions one by one.
OFWs helped fund Luneta rally; but for now, the P2M raised is legally Jimmy Bondoc’s “personal income”
There is no question that hundreds of overseas Filipinos, particularly those residing in the Middle East and the United States, forked out hard-earned money to fund the rally.
However, there is no way to determine how much came from overseas Filipinos because Gava Gives as a platform does not show the origin of the money.
You will notice by clicking the tab “Givers”, that quite a number of the donations – ranging from US$10.00 to around US$200.00 – came from anonymous donors whom the crowdfunding site calls “Gava Angels”.
I interviewed Annalyn J. Cuisia, president and founder of Gava Technologies, Inc., and she told me that Gava Gives stores information in its system where the donations came from and who the givers were.
However, I pointed out to her that donations coursed through local banks do not necessarily note the donors’ names.
Could money from the Philippine government have been coursed through Gava Gives? There is no way of knowing this.
However, and I must stress this point, overseas contract workers did give their money for the rally.
Jimmy Bondoc managed to raise $47,479.06 through Gava Gives, generously donated by 1,122 “givers”. This comes to around P2.378 million in all. It’s an impressive amount, one that micro enterprises would envy. If they were a registered corporation, that would have catapulted them to the VAT paying category.
This is where Jimmy Bondoc’s success brings with it a different set of problems. You see, his group – the Duterte Alliance of Volunteers, Artists, and Organizers or D.A.V.A.O. Movement – calls itself an NGO.
See its Facebook page.
To be legally qualified to call itself an NGO, a group should be formally registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. D.A.V.A.O. Movement is not registered, although Jimmy Bondoc told me that Bruce Rivera has “reserved” the name at the SEC.
I verified with the SEC that indeed, the name has been reserved but the group still has to be incorporated.
What does this mean? It means that until the group is incorporated, whoever signed up with Gava Gives to raise funds for the Luneta rally is the person who can use and keep the money for whatever purpose. And that person, apparently, is Jimmy Bondoc. Under the law, he can do what he pleases with the money – but he has to pay taxes.
Bondoc blurred out the name on the P1 million Banco de Oro check issued by Gava Gives. When I asked him what the blurred name was, he replied he would ask a field officer and then send me a copy. He hasn’t sent it to me yet.
How the whole thing worked was that the various Duterte supporters here and abroad were encouraged to send their money to Gava Gives, which would then keep eight percent of the gross amount at the closing date and send the remainder to Bondoc. Gava Gives could not legally issue a check to D.A.V.A.O. Movement because the group was not yet incorporated as an NGO. Banks are super strict nowadays in allowing the opening of bank accounts in the name of corporations and other entities other than individual persons.
Jimmy Bondoc told me that indeed he was the one who received the check from Gava Gives. He assured me that “nobody held the money but me” and that all expenses using the money were accounted for “kahit yung P36 na brown folder” (even the P36 spent for buying a brown folder).
Since there was no corporation to speak of and it was Jimmy Bondoc who had received the money, I asked him whether or not he was aware that he had to pay taxes on the P2 million they had raised.
At first, he told me that some “experts” told them no tax had to be paid. I told him that under Bureau of Internal Revenue rules, only those NGOs given special BIR status could receive donations without paying taxes on them.
When I pointed that out, Bondoc replied that if taxes had to be paid, he or the NGO would pay it.
To read more about this, pls. go to the story,
I would like to thank @sup, an active member of Cyber Plaza Miranda – the vigorous discussion group on my site – for this link on donations and taxes.
How much does Jimmy Bondoc owe in taxes for the P2 million donations?
Since the money would still, at this point, be treated by the Bureau of Internal Revenue” as his personal income I roughly calculated that next year, Bondoc would have to pay about P600,000 in income tax.
I was surprised that the D.A.V.A.O. Movement seemed unaware of their tax responsibilities since among the organizers was lawyer Bruce Rivera, the lawyer of Janet Lim Napoles who is being accused of spectacularly laundering billions of pork barrel pesos through her NGOs.
When I asked Jimmy Bondoc who the organizers of D.A.V.A.O. Movement were, he named himself, Board of Censors director Mocha Uson, lawyer Bruce Rivera, and bloggers such as MJ Quiambao, Rocky Gonzales and Francis Manalo. In the first press conference of the group, De la Salle Professor Antonio Contreras was also present but Jimmy Bondoc did not name him.
Who actually paid for the expenses of the rally? In his breakdown of expenses, Bondoc makes it clear that half of the money they raised through Gava Gives went to rally expenses.
As proof, he posted on FB a receipt showing they paid P230,000 for “light, sound, staging and roofing”.
I found several things curious about the receipt. First, it did not show the name to whom the receipt was issued. Second, it did not show the date it was issued. And third – which was the most curious thing – it showed that the entity to whom the receipt was issued was into “RETAIL SERVICES” (See the handwritten words after the printed words – “Style of”).
That is the portion in every BIR-approved receipt where a seller or service provider is supposed to describe the “style of business” of the payee or the one paying.
In this case, the payee is supposed to be either the D.A.V.A.O. Movement or Bondoc.
I asked him to whom was this receipt really issued, because if they were an NGO, then that is their style of business, not “retail services”.
He said he would check with his “field officer”. I asked him to send me the complete receipt. I have not received it to this day.
Gava Technologies is a legitimate Filipino corporation
Gava Technologies which runs the crowdfunding platform Gava Gives is a legitimate corporation registered with the SEC. It might be the first local, digital crowdfunding platform.
Bondoc told me he learned about the platform through his personal network.
Although Gava Tech claims to be associated with “Gava Tech Pte Ltd., a Singapore registered startup”, the 2016 General Information Sheet of Gava Technologies shows that it is 95% owned by Annalyn J. Cuisia. The information sheet does not mention any affiliation with any foreign company.
I asked Ann Cuisia how their platform made sure it was not used for money laundering. She told me that they have the names of the donors “for audit purposes”. And transactions coursed through banks follow the rules of the anti-Money Laundering Council.
I asked her whether her company withholds taxes on the money raised, which then has to be reported to the BIR using BIR Form 2307. I cited Jimmy Bondoc’s fund-raising as an example.
She later replied, “Upon checking with my legal officer and CFO (chief financial officer), we are not bound to issue (BIR Form) 2307. We are only bound to issue official receipts for the service fee we collect.”
This simply means that since Gava Gives is not a withholding tax agent for fund raisers like Bondoc, it is up to him to pay all the taxes on the funds raised when the time comes.
The first press conference of D.A.V.A.O. Movement did not tell reporters about Gava Gives
I have been harshly criticized and made fun of for asking “How much is today’s anti-Leni Robredo rally costing and who is paying for it?”
This referred to the April 2 #palitbise rally that hard core supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte staged at the Luneta Park, which drew less than 5,000 rallyists at its peak.
I thought it was a very legitimate question, since allegations had surfaced that the previous February rally at Luneta was funded by the state agency, Tourism Promotion Board, courtesy of its chief Cesar Montano. To this day I haven’t heard of any news of this being investigated.
Because of what I had asked on my post, Atty. Bruce Rivera lectured me by saying, “Before you open your mouth, check your facts.”
Rivera is being disingenuous about the whole thing. I purposely use that word “disingenuous” because it means “dishonest, untruthful, false, deceitful, duplicitous, lying, mendacious and hypocritical”.
You see, when Rivera and other rally organizers staged a press conference on the rally on March 23, dwIZ reporter Jill Resontoc asked them where the rally funds would come from.
Rivera took offense at the question (which was the same one I had asked) and he said:
“Kapag nagmi-meeting kami, kanya-kanya kaming bayad kasi (Whenever we hold our meetings, we pay for our own because) if you notice, this is the popular misconception that we are funded by anyone. We are not funded by anyone. We are doing this. We have our own careers at hand.”
What Rivera forgot or neglected to mention to reporters was that by then, his group had already started soliciting funds for the rally from the public through gavagives.com
Three days before the press conference on March 17, Bondoc had posted on Facebook a warning for Duterte supporters not to give money to just anyone.
Jimmy Bondoc advised potential donors to give only through Gava Gives.
The next day March 18, Mocha Uson shared Jimmy Bondoc’s post with the following meme.
It was a clear marching order to Duterte supporters to channel their generosity through Gava Gives.
As Jimmy Bondoc told me in the interview, it went viral and the number of donors shot up.
Still, on March 23 when Bruce Rivera, Antonio Contreras and the other rally organizers met the press, they made no mention of Gava Gives.
Because if they did, that would have been picked up by the professional news media. Who might have asked embarrassing questions about NGO registrations, tax exemptions and official receipts.
And so, when the professional news media to which I belong are harshly criticized by the donors for not reporting that they had funded the rally, they should instead ask the rally organizers why their generosity was not acknowledged by the group early on.
A commenter on my site named @Frank wrote on my blog saying that Gava Gives was in the news on March 26.
Indeed it was, but the news report made no mention of the #palitbise Luneta rally. It only said that the Gava Gives website had been hacked “for political reasons” after “a campaign was launched under Gava Gives’ services”.
In short, what I’m saying is this: Duterte supporters like Bondoc, Rivera, Contreras and Uson are well within their rights to boycott/ignore/snub the professional media.
But they should not cry “foul” or “biased” if the boycott results in the professional media not becoming aware of their activities.
The angry, insulting, and at times obscene messages and tweets I have been getting due to my questions on the Luneta rally prompted me to investigate the issue further.
This is part 1 of my investigation.