MANILA, Philippines – Businessman Antonio Tiu on Thursday, October 30, submitted before the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee a one-page document that he claims as proof of his ownership of a controversial Batangas estate.
Tiu submitted the document – a Memorandum of Agreement between him and Laureano Gregorio – before the Senate panel initially tasked to probe the alleged overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2, which has since turned into a forum for the Vice President’s former allies and detractors.
Senators leading the probe – Senators Alan Peter Cayetano, Aquilino Pimentel III, and Antonio Trillanes IV – criticized Tiu for presenting a document that was not notarized.
Tiu’s lawyer, Martin Subido, insisted that even if the MOA presented was not notarized, it is still legally binding between Tiu and Gregorio. But Cayetano, who is also a lawyer, insisted that a document needs to be notarized for it to be binding to third parties as well.
“Ang pinapakita niyo sa akin, convenient excuse na kay Mr Tiu na ito (What you’re showing me is a convenient excuse to say Mr Tiu owns the land),” said Cayetano.
Tiu is accused of acting as Vice President Jejomar Binay’s “dummy,” using his name and that of his company, Sunchamp Real Estate Corporation, to purchase a 145-hectare property in Rosario, Batangas.
“Whistleblowers” in the probe have tagged the property as “Hacienda Binay” –alleged proof of Binay’s corruption during his stint as Makati mayor. Binay has denied these accusations, while Tiu insists that the property is legitimately his, despite the absence of land titles.
The so-called “Hacienda Binay” was once owned by Agrifortuna Inc, a company founded by the Vice President and his wife Elenita, along with Laureano Gregorio Jr and two others.
The property has since been sold to Sunchamp Real Estate Development Corporation and its owner, Tiu. The businessman said that he has already paid P11 million out of the estimated P446 million worth of the Batangas property.
He has also supposedly spent P50 million to renovate the property, which he wants to convert into an “agri-tourism” destination.
Cayetano asked Tiu to submit documents – including the checks he issued – as proof of the transaction. Pimentel also asked Tiu and his lawyer to submit notes exchanged between Tiu and Gregorio which are considered part of the contract.
During the hearing, Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes confirmed that at the launch of the Sunchamp property in early August 2014, Tiu told him he did not own the land, but was only leasing it.
De los Reyes added that after the launch, his office wrote to Tiu, urging him to “file whatever appropriate documents you should file” in order to follow the country’s agrarian reform program. – Rappler.com