Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Maliit na butas, lumalaki

PCIJ is running a three-part series of reports on how the Arroyo family could have possibly amassed its wealth -- more than the combined, declared wealth of Aquino, Ramos and Estrada during their respective administrations -- during Gloria's presidency.

From the First Report:

The late President Corazon C. Aquino’s declared net worth grew by only 4.8 percent from 1989 to 1992. By comparison, Fidel V. Ramos’s rose by 34.2 percent from 1992 to 1998, and Joseph ‘Erap’ Ejercito Estrada’s, by 7.2 percent from 1998 to 1999.

In her eight years in office, Arroyo’s declared net worth more than doubled (pegged only on the book or acquisition value of her assets), from P66.8 million in 2001 to P143.54 million in 2008. The increase of P76.74 million represents a growth rate of 114 percent.

Of course, Malacanang was immediately on defense mode, as the guilty are wont to do:

Remonde (the President's insipid spokesperson --J) said the sudden increase in Mrs. Arroyo’s wealth was mainly due to the investments that she and husband Jose Miguel Arroyo made in the real estate business.

Isa sa nagpalaki…ang real estate property. Alam natin in the last 10 years or so malaki talaga ang pag-akyat ng value ng property sa ating bansa..." said Remonde.

(One reason for that is real estate property. In the last 10 years or so, real estate prices have soared.)

The sale of that property was then used to buy stocks, which then helped increase their wealth, according to Ruy Rondain, the Arroyo couple’s counsel. The property was sold in 2007, a year before the global economic meltdown of 2008, when stockholders would literally commit suicide due to losses in the stock market. FYI lang.

In any case, that was yesterday morning. By nighttime, PCIJ released its Second Report, which coincidentally, discusses the alleged property. Here are its highlights:

    - Arroyos bought a 2.9-hectare agricultural lot in San Rafael Bulacan for P100,000 in 1996
    - Then Senator Arroyo already listed the property in her 1995 SALN (Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth) for P1.2 million. PCIJ has no explanation for this.
    - From 1997 to 2007, when the Arroyos sold the property to a certain Richard Lim, her SALNs pegged the San Rafael property at P4.7 million, or P159 per square meter. Given its acquisition cost of P3.37 per square meter or P100,000, the value of land had thus appreciated by over 4,600 percent.
    - Teresa Perez, municipal assessor of San Rafael for the last two decades, thinks the Lim's purchase price was at least six times what she would have thought fair:

      - Jose Arroyo sold the lot at P1,400 per square meter, or for a total of P41,482,000. This is 400 times than the P100,000 the Arroyos paid for back in 1996, and also eight times higher than its latest recorded fair market value.
      - Current prices of agricultural lots in San Rafael, according to Perez, range from P100 to P250 per square meter, with properties located near the highway fetching top price. The San Rafael property is located at the foothills of the Sierra Madre, but assuming it was able to command a price of P250 per square meter, its total value would be P7,407,500.

And here's the icing on the cake: The Government, through the Department of Public Works and Highways, spent P44.8 million in road projects from 2004 to 2007. These roads all lead to the Arroyo property.

Care to explain that, Remonde? :-)

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