MANILA, Philippines – Sen Jinggoy Estrada is reportedly building a new, multi-million-peso house in one of the country’s high-end subdivisions.
According to a source with direct knowledge of Estrada’s expenses, in 2012, the senator bought a 3,000-square meter lot in Wack-Wack subdivision in Mandaluyong. Subdivision residents who were interviewed by Rappler said it was “common knowledge” among them that the house — estimated to cost P120 million — is owned by Estrada.
Construction was ongoing on the L-shaped lot when Rappler visited the property in the second week of September. This was stopped by last week.
The lot alone along Wack-Wack Road is estimated to cost between P210 million to P240 million, as the land in the exclusive subdivision is said to be priced anywhere from P70,000-P80,000 per square meter, a check with the Wack-Wack barangay office showed.
In his 2012 Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth, Estrada declared a net worth of P193.6 million. There was no mention of the Wack-Wack property.
Rappler has repeatedly tried to get Estrada’s side until he picked up his phone on Wednesday, September 18. He however hung up.
Estrada is accused of diverting his Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) or pork barrel to bogus non-governmental organizations allegedly set up by former military supplier Janet Lim Napoles in exchange for hefty kickbacks.
On Monday, September 16, Estrada was one of 3 senators charged with plunder by the Department of Justice (DOJ) before the Office of the Ombudsman.
Estrada has denied any participation in any irregularity and has also refrained from participating in the ongoing Senate Blue Ribbon inquiry on the scam. He has said he is willing to face any plunder charges against him.
Documents from the Mandaluyong Registry of Deeds show that the property is registered under the name of Verdant Forest Highlands Inc, and not Estrada. Past links exist, however, between Verdant and the Estrada family.
In a complaint affidavit prepared in February 2001 for the Office of the Ombudsman, Verdant Forest Highlands Inc was described as a “thinly capitalized dummy corporation organized by the attorneys of Joseph E. Estrada to house and conceal his beneficial ownership” of 551 Wack Wack St in Mandaluyong. Its directors, as indicated in the corporation’s “certificate of increase of the authorized capital stock,” are mostly lawyers of ACCRALAW.
The same Wack-Wack property, purchased by Verdant more than 15 years ago (on Dec 29, 1997), was then valued at approximately P50 million. Verdant’s purchase covered 4 lots — lots 1-B, 1-C, 1-D and 1-E — totaling 2,313 square meters, documents from the assessor’s office show.
Verdant also purchased in December 1997 and for P20 million, lot 1-A, which measures 771 square meters. All together, the lots bought by Verdant for a total of P70 million totaled 3,084 square meters.
As early as 2000, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism linked the 3,084-square-meter property to Jinggoy’s father, then President Joseph Estrada.
Later on March 20, 2000, Verdant bought lot 2, a 1,007-square-meter property. This brought to a total of 4,091 square meters its total landholdings.
Wack-Wack residents told Rappler the contractor for the Wack-Wack Road house is Evergreen Holdings Inc whose chair and president is Joselito Campos Jr. Evergreen is among the contractors of the high-end Bonifacio Global City.
Close to 16 years after Verdant bought the Wack Wack properties, lot 1-A measuring 771 square meters and part of lot 1-B were registered under the name of Navotas Representative and Estrada ally Toby Tiangco. He purchased 978.29 square meters of the Verdant/Estrada property in 2010 but would not say who owns the surrounding property or the rest of the lots behind his.
The property is also listed in Tiangco’s Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth. He became the listed owner of the lots on Jan 12, 2011.
Verdant’s Articles of Incorporation, which Rappler obtained from the Securities and Exchange and Commission (SEC), show the company was built in 1997 to “own, use, improve, develop, sell, exchange, lease and hold for investment or otherwise, real estate of all kinds.”
Tiangco confirmed to Rappler he now owns the property. He sold his old house in Greenhills in 2010 and bought the Wack-Wack house from Verdant in 2010. Tiangco said renovations to the house were completed in March 2012.
“Yes, I own 1,000 square meters but I’m not in a position to tell [who owns the rest]. The other 3,000 square meters is an action between the buyer and seller, which is between the both of them,” he told Rappler over the phone.
He also reiterated the lot is “not shared.” Instead the parcel of land is subdivided, and parts of it are under his name.
A visit to the property shows Tiangco’s address, 551 Wack-Wack Road, occupying part of the land formerly owned by Verdant.
Estrada’s 2012 SALN indicates that he presently lives in Corinthian Hills in Quezon City.
That property is valued at P30 million, according to his SALN.
A previous Rappler report also revealed that from 2007 to 2012, Estrada’s net worth jumped 133%. – with Rey Santos Jr/Rappler.com