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MANILA, Philippines – Linked by showbiz and politics, senators Jinggoy Estrada and his friend Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr lead parallel lives that reflect increasing wealth through the years.
In a span of 6 years — from 2007 to 2012 — Estrada’s net worth jumped 133%, enabling him to overtake Revilla as among the richer senators in the Senate. In comparison, Revilla’s net worth jumped 47% in the same 6-year period — no less impressive.
Based on his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) as of December 2012, Estrada’s net worth stood at P193,580,509.92 as against Revilla’s P169,141,387.21.
In their 2007 SALN, Estrada declared a net worth of P83,154,561.78, while Revilla declared P114,968,000.
Through the years, the two senators’ net worth increased steadily, with Revilla ahead in rankings over his good friend.
But in 2011, Estrada finally overtook Revilla in terms of net worth, with P166,727,581.91 versus the latter’s P147,217,704.56. Estrada was 4th richest senator while Revilla slid to 5th place.
He maintained this edge over his buddy in their 2012 SALN.
The two friends are now being linked to the alleged diversion of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel to bogus non-government organizations allegedly set up by former military supplier Janet Lim Napoles. The former fugitive surrendered to President Benigno Aquino III on August 28 and is being detained at Fort Sto Domingo in Sta Rosa, Laguna.
A special state audit showed that hundreds of millions of pesos of the two lawmakers’ PDAF, along with that of former Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile, were funneled to the dummy NGOs controlled by Napoles.
Witnesses to the scam said the PDAF was split between Napoles and the lawmakers. Estrada and Revilla have both denied any participation in the irregularity.
They have also refrained from participating in the ongoing Senate Blue Ribbon inquiry. Revilla’s lawyer Joel Bodegon was quoted in an Inquirer report as saying the allegations against his client are “lies” and that Revilla has refrained from attending the hearings because he felt it would be “inappropriate” to do so.
Sudden rise in net worth
From 2007 to 2009, Estrada’s net worth barely moved, increasing only by P878,595.13 in two years. In comparison, Revilla’s net worth climbed by almost P9 million. But the wheels of fortune would change.
In 2010, Estrada’s wealth shot up by over P9.5 million while Revilla’s wealth increased by over P2 million only.
The following year, in 2011, his net worth skyrocketed with a P73.165 million increase, representing a 78.2% hike. In comparison, Revilla’s net worth only increased by 17%. In 2012, Estrada sustained the pace of his new-found luck, registering a P193.5 million in net worth versus Revilla’s P169.1 million.
What happened between 2010 and 2012 that might explain Estrada’s financial success?
|Comparative net worth based on SALN
A closer look at Estrada’s 2010 SALN showed that his net worth increased significantly following the completion of a P30-million residential house at Corinthian Hills. This property was not reflected in his 2009 SALN, where he declared 13 real property assets with a total value of P67.929 million.
The Corinthian house reflected in his 2010 SALN pushed the value of his real properties to P97.975 million. His “personal and other personalities” assets (cash on hand/in bank, jewelry, motor vehicles, furniture) totaled P21.562 million. He declared liabilities of P25.975 million.
In his 2011 SALN, Estrada’s real property assets dropped to P74.627 million, after he disposed of a lot and a residential house, both in Greenhills, with a total acquisition cost of P23.347 million. And where could the proceeds from the sale of the two properties possibly go?
In Estrada’s 2011 SALN under the “personal and other personalities” category, there was a new entry Investments — which was not reflected in his previous SALNs — and which totaled P93.304 million.
The senator’s 2011 SALN showed business interests in 7 companies under the name of his wife, Presentacion Ejercito. These are S-E-N-J-I Corp (with his daughter as among the stockholders); Lucky J4J Resto Inc; HK Choi Inc; Choi Palace Inc; Quick Choi; JELP Real Estate Devt Corp; and Golden Treasure Enterprise. Except for Golden Treasure, the couple’s business interests in these firms were also listed in Estrada’s 2010 SALN.
In his latest 2012 SALN, Estrada’s net worth rose further to P193.580 million, the bulk of which was represented by “investments” amounting to P119.304 million. This time, the “investments” are parked in 4 companies—S-E-N-J-I Corp, Lucky J4J Resto Inc, HK Choi Inc, and Choi Palace Inc. Cash on hand and in bank added P15.874 million to his net worth.
While these investments were declared in Estrada’s 2011 and 2012 SALNs, these were not listed in his previous SALNs.
Just like other lawmakers, Estrada’s SALN for 2011 was filed April 30, 2012 the deadline date for the filing of SALNs. At that time, the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona was already nearing its conclusion.
Corona was impeached by the House of Representatives in December 2011. By January 2012 , the Senate had convened as an impeachment court and by May, he was convicted for betrayal of public trust for failing to file an accurate and correct SALN.
From 2007 to 2009, years covered by the Commission on Audit’s special audit on the pork barrel, Estrada’s business interests were limited to only two companies which were under his wife and daughter’s names. In 2007, he listed Bistro Bar Inc and Lucky J4J Resto Inc, which were under his wife’s name.
In 2008 and 2009, he identified S-E-N-J-I Corp and Lucky J4J Resto in his SALNs which were under the names of his wife and daughter.
It was in his 2010 SALN that the family investment expanded to 6 companies which were all under his wife’s name, with a daughter listed as a stockholder in one of these. In 2011, however, all investments were parked in 7 companies which were solely under his wife’s name.
In his 2011 SALN, Estrada indicated that in October 2009 he placed his investments in HK Choi Inc. This was, however, not reflected in his 2009 SALN.
For Quick Choi Inc and Choi Palace Inc, Estrada said investments were placed in these two companies in October 2010. It was in that same year that he was able to build a P30-million house in Corinthian Hills.