Cayetano: Binay’s former firm pays for ‘Hacienda Binay’ electric bills

Bea Cupin
Cayetano: Binay’s former firm pays for ‘Hacienda Binay’ electric bills
But Antonio Tiu says the electric bills don't prove anything

MANILA, Philippines – If Antonio Tiu’s Sunchamp Real Estate and Development Corporation really owns the controversial 145-hectare estate in Rosario, Batangas, how come a different company is paying for its power bill?

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano on Thursday, November 6, said it was not Sunchamp paying for the electricity bills of the property but Agrifortuna Inc., a company once owned by Vice President Jejomar Binay.

The so-called Hacienda Binay was once owned by Agrifortuna, which was founded by Binay and his wife Elenita, along with Laureano Gregorio Jr and two others. Binay said the property has since been sold to Sunchamp and its owner, Antonio Tiu. (READ: Hacienda Binay under VP’s friends, aides’ names)

Binay’s former allies however said Tiu is merely acting as a front for Binay, a claim denied by the businessman and the Vice President.

Tiu admitted in previous hearings that he does not have the land titles to the property. Asked for documentary proof, Tiu submitted before the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee a one-page, un-notarized Memorandum of Agreement between himself and Gregorio, the seller of the property who was a co-founder of Agrifortuna.

Electronic checks

Cayetano said the subcommittee’s investigations revealed that the Rosario property’s electric bills were paid through electronic checks from a Metrobank branch near JP Rizal in Makati City, which is near the Makati City hall. Adding that he did “not want to speculate,” Cayetano said this was only one of many holes in Tiu’s narrative.

Cayetano moved to invite Tiu to the next hearing so he could explain his side.

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, an erstwhile friend of Tiu’s, opposed Cayetano’s motion. “[Tiu’s story changes] precisely because hindi nga siya ang may-ari… yan ang katotohanan (He is not the owner and that’s the truth). At least that’s how I see it, from the mind of a layman, of a soldier,” said Trillanes.

But Tiu, in an interview on ANC (ABS-CBN News Channel), insisted they had already given the subcommittee all the documents needed but added “there are limits to certain documents that are privy to our investors.”

He also said there was nothing dubious about Sunchamp’s bills being paid by AgriFortuna. “As far as we are concerned, we are already legally occupying the property and exercising control,” he added.

“Gregorio’s obligation to deliver the titles is not complete yet. That is why utility bills’ name have not yet been transferred,” Tiu told Rappler in a text message.

Tiu decided to skip the November 6 hearing despite receiving a subpoena. –

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.