Ejercito on PCIJ report: It’s Erap-bashing again
MANILA, Philippines – “It’s Erap bashing all over again.”
This was how San Juan Rep JV Ejercito responded to a report of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) that he owns a secret offshore account in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), a privacy and tax haven.
In a text message to Rappler on Friday, April 5, Ejercito said the report was part of a “demolition job” meant to undermine his candidacy for senator. Ejercito is running under the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
The congressman said the supposed attack was similar to the “demolition job” his father, former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada, experienced during his presidency.
“It’s Erap bashing all over again. Because they cannot find anything irregular in my stint as a public official, no onerous or anomalous contracts or transactions, that is why they need to dig into the past.”
He added, “Same old style, same people, same intention. Character assassination and demolition job.”
The report was based on a year-long multi-country investigation by the Washington DC-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, of which PCIJ was part. Besides Ejercito, the PCIJ reports also said Sen Manny Villar and Ilocos Norte Gov Imee Marcos have secret offshore accounts in the BVI.
During his father’s presidency, the PCIJ released a series of reports on Estrada’s wealth, properties, and companies. Its reports were cited in the impeachment complaint filed against Estrada in the House of Representatives.
In a strange twist, Ejercito also linked the PCIJ story to TV reports that he snubbed the daughter of his half-brother, Sen Jinggoy Estrada, during the San Juan proclamation rally on Tuesday, April 2. Jinggoy’s daughter, Janella Ejercito, is running for San Juan councilor.
Despite Ejercito’s denial, Sen Estrada took exception to the report, possibly deepening the rift between the two brothers.
Ejercito also said part of the "demolition job" was a Commission on Elections resolution showing him to be one of the top spenders for TV and radio ads.
“[The] demolition job has started. First, it was my character with the [snub] of my niece. Now, it’s accounts and business. …. Those are from my previous businesses before entering politics,” Ejercito told Rappler.
In the statements he sent to PCIJ and Rappler, Ejercito neither confirmed nor denied that he is a director of a BVI company called Ice Bell Properties Limited. The PCIJ report said he did not disclose this in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).
Ejercito just reiterated in a press statement Friday, “I have truthfully and accurately declared all my assets, liabilities and net worth in my SALN.”
“The timing of this so-called expose is highly suspicious considering I am one of the UNA candidates consistently in the winning list of monthly surveys by different polling organizations and recently barged into the top 3 in [the survey].”
"I have heretofore held high respect [for] the PCIJ. I hope that they are not falling [for] the manipulation of desperate people in dirty politics," he said.
The congressman was referring to a Social Weather Stations (SWS) March survey where he ranked 3rd-4th, tied with Sen Francis Escudero.
Director of Ice Bell Properties?
In his media statements, Ejercito did not go into the details of the PCIJ report naming him as the sole director of the offshore company Ice Bell Properties Limited.
The PCIJ report said Ejercito’s Ice Bell Properties was incorporated in the BVI in July 1999, when he was overseeing about 30 companies including those founded by his mother re-electionist San Juan Mayor Guia Gomez.
The story added that records linking him to the company show the same San Juan City residential address that Ejercito wrote in his 2001 SALN.
The PCIJ report also said Ejercito became director of Ice Bell Properties on July 8, 1999, when his father was still president.
A check of PCIJ found that Ice Bell Properties remained active as of April 2, 2013.
Ejercito was mayor of San Juan for 9 years, from 2001 to 2010, and became the city’s representative in 2010. Read his profile here. – Rappler.com