FAST FACTS: Who is Wilfredo Keng?

TIES. Wilfredo Keng (left) has ties to Chinese philanthropist Huang Rulun (right). Keng photo from Century Peak Metals report, Huang photo by Rappler

TIES. Wilfredo Keng (left) has ties to Chinese philanthropist Huang Rulun (right).

Keng photo from Century Peak Metals report, Huang photo by Rappler

AT A GLANCE


MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Who is Wilfredo “Willy” D. Keng, the businessman who sued Rappler for cyber libel and threatened to take legal action against PhilStar.com for an article written years ago?

Listed by Forbes as among the country’s top 40 richest in 2010, the then-45-year-old Keng registered a net worth of $US100 million.

Keng's daughter Patricia is also running as party list nominee of Wow Pilipinas in the coming May elections based on the Comelec's latest list of party list nominees posted on its Facebook page

Keng ranked No. 32 in the Forbes list, after Benjamin Romualdez, and was described as having control over mining company Century Peak Metals Holdings Corp (CPM), which was listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange in 2009. Keng was also recorded as having interests in shopping malls and real estate.

According to Bloomberg’s latest executive profile, Keng is chairman, CEO and president of CPM and is “actively engaged in business both locally and in China.” Since 2008, he has been director of CPM, which has interests in mining operations in Dinagat Islands. 

The operations of its wholly-owned subsidiary Century Peak Corporation (CPC) were among those that were recommended for suspension by then-environment secretary Gina Lopez back in September 2016. Specifically, CPC’s Rapid City Nickel Project and Casiguran Nickel Project, both in Dinagat Islands, faced suspension due to alleged violations of mining and environmental regulations.

Davao-based MindaNews reported in March 2017: "Roger de Dios, regional director of Mines and Geosciences Bureau for Caraga Region (MGB-Caraga), described Century Peak Corporation (CPC), which operates in Loreto town in Dinagat Island as a 'recidivist environmental violator.'" In December 2016, CPC was warned by MGB-Caraga about its violations, including its low accomplishment of its Social Development and Management Program, MindaNews reported.

In a February 2017 PhilStar report, Keng's Century Peak Metals Holdings Corp, was, however, among the 12 mining firms that the DENR identified as having passed its mining audit.

Keng is also president of Colony Investors Inc, Good Earth Plaza, U-Need Shopping Center, Cariedo Plaza, Balikbayan Shopping Mall, and Century Peak Corp.

According to Bloomberg, in China, his business interests include Fil-China (Tianjin) Textile Inc, Colony Real Property Development (Weifang) Inc, and Wuzhou Long (Quanzhou) Automotive Mfg Co Ltd.

Into real estate

Keng is also co-incorporator of a real estate company with two sons of Huang Rulun, the Chinese tycoon whom President Rodrigo Duterte had profusely thanked for his P1.4-billion donation of a mega drug rehabilitation center in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija. 

The articles of incorporation of Century Hongyu Property Ventures Corp, obtained by Rappler, lists Keng as among its 7 incorporators, along with Huang Tao and Huang Shiying, the sons of Huang Rulun. The 7 incorporators are also the directors of Century Hongyu Property Ventures Corp. The company was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission in March 2017, documents show.

Huang Tao, the eldest son of Huang Rulun, has been president of Century Golden Resources Group since 2012, according to Forbes. Not much is written about the younger Huang Shiying.

Huang Rulun’s company, Century Golden Resources Investment Group Co Ltd owns 99,999,997 shares or around 40% of Century Hongyu Property Ventures Inc. Keng, meanwhile, owns 25,000,002 shares or 10%. Huang Tao and Huang Shiying own only one share each.

The documents obtained by Rappler can be found below:

The articles of incorporation document was signed by the incorporators and notarized on March 1, 2017 in Makati City by lawyer Pedro Genato. 

According to the document, Century Hongyu Property Ventures Corp's primary purpose is to "deal and engage in land or real estate business" and to develop or deal in residential, commercial, or industrial property.

A look at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) website confirmed that Century Hongyu Property Ventures Corp exists and that its articles of incorporation and by-laws were received on March 20, 2017.

Rappler sought Keng’s comment on his ties with Huang Rulun for this story. Keng’s lawyer, Joseph Banguis, responded on Friday, February 22, saying, “I am not aware of this.”

Mega drug rehab center contact

Besides being a co-incorporator of Huang’s sons in Century Hongyu Property Ventures Corp, Keng was also the contact person for the construction company hired by Huang to build the rehabilitation center. This was disclosed via a January 13, 2017 reply to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request from a citizen who wanted to know which construction firm was tapped to build the mega drug rehab facility (see below).

In a January 13, 2017 letter, Department of Health FOI receiving officer Romela Devera said a “Mr Willy Keng” is the contact person for the construction company hired by Huang to build the rehabilitation center.

Rappler screenshot of the DOH's response to an FOI request about the mega drug rehabilitation center in Nueva Ecija

FOI requests and government responses to them are publicly available on the eFOI portal developed by the Presidential Communications Operations Office. 

Though Keng appears to have strong ties with Huang and was involved in a project recognized by Duterte himself, Duterte had said he does not know Keng.

"Hindi ko kilala 'yang si Keng (I do not know Keng). Frankly, I do not know him or what prompted him to file a case," said Duterte on February 14, referring to Keng's cyber libel case against Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and former researcher Rey Santos.

Huang Rulun and Duterte

Not much is known about Huang Rulun in the Philippines save for his drug rehab facility donation. Huang is listed as among China’s top 6 philanthropists, according to the Hurun Report, which said the businessman donated some $125 million in 2015.

Duterte himself attended the inauguration of the facility with Huang on November 29, 2016. The two shook hands after unveiling the marker for the center, envisioned to accommodate 10,000 patients.

“Mr Huang, please accept my gratitude and that of the Filipino people,” said Duterte.

'GOOD SAMARITAN.' President Rodrigo Duterte shakes hands with philanthropist Huang Rulun during the inauguration of the mega drug rehabilitation center in Nueva Ecija in November 2016. Malacau00f1ang file photo

'GOOD SAMARITAN.' President Rodrigo Duterte shakes hands with philanthropist Huang Rulun during the inauguration of the mega drug rehabilitation center in Nueva Ecija in November 2016.

Malacau00f1ang file photo

In June 2017, however, The Financial Times reported that the anti-corruption watchdog in Beijing announced Huang was being investigated over allegations of bribery.

Forbes listed him as the 57th richest man in China in February 2019, with an estimated net worth of $4 billion.

Reclamation

The Cavite provincial government also tied up with Keng’s Century Peak Corporation for a massive reclamation project.

A July 2018 Philstar story reported on the actual announcement last year by Katrina Keng. The project, currently in the application stage, aims to reclaim at least 1,332 hectares. It is the 2nd largest project proposal next to the 1,900-hectare Sangley Point International Airport project also located in Cavite.

According to a joint certification by Cavite Governor Jesus Crispin Remulla and CPC's Keng, Century Peak would be entitled to 90% of the total net usable land of the reclaimed area. The rest will be for government, including the Philippine Reclamation Authority.

Being a private-public partnership, it means government is not spending a single centavo for this project. CPC’s unsolicited proposal would, however, still be subjected to a competitive challenge. – with Ralf Rivas/Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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