The House’s wanna-be senators

Propped by rich clans, big donors

Second of Four Parts

BAYAN MUNA party-list representative Teodoro ‘Teddy’ Casiño ranks 283 out of 284 members of the Lower House in terms of declared net worth. That may be why among the five current district representatives who are running for a Senate seat in the upcoming elections, Casiño — or to be more exact, the organization he had been representing in Congress — received the most contributions during the 2010 polls.

Bayan Muna also spent the highest amount in 2010 national and local elections when compared to the four other members of the House who now want to be senators. But that may be because party-list groups are elected by all voters, and thus always campaign on a national level. At the same time, the four other representatives-turned-senatorial candidates are not only wealthy, based on their own declarations of net worth, but also have surnames that already have considerable political cache, some of which are decades-old.

Aurora Representative Juan Edgardo ‘Sonny’ M. Angara, Cagayan Representative Juan ‘Jack’ C. Ponce Enrile Jr., San Juan City Representative Joseph Victor ‘JV’ G. Ejercito, and Zambales Representative Ma. Milagros ‘Mitos’ M. Magsaysay all belong to political families. Angara is the son of Senator Edgardo ‘Ed’ J. Angara, Ponce Enrile is the only son and namesake of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Ejercito is a son of deposed President Joseph Estrada, while Magsaysay is the daughter-in-law of Zambales Governor Vicente Pulido Magsaysay. These four lawmakers also have at least three relatives each running for public office in May 2013 elections.

Unlike Casiño, who had a declared net worth of only P91,000 in 2011, Angara, Ponce Enrile, Ejercito, and Magsaysay are multimillionaires. In fact, they were among the top 50 richest members of the House in 2011, based on a summary list from the House Records Office, which provides the totals of real assets, personal assets, liabilities, and net worth of the legislators.

Aside from easier name recall, this could help explain how Angara, Ejercito, and Magsaysay were able to win Congress seats in 2010 without receiving any contribution, according to documents they submitted to the Commission and Elections (Comelec). They also spent well under P1 million at the time, with Magsaysay listing a total of P650,00 as her election expenditures in 2010, Ejercito P438,512, and Angara a measly P210, 500. Enrile, meanwhile, spent P541,462, with P109,468 worth of contributions.

In contrast, Bayan Muna spent more than P1.2 million to snag a House seat, with contributions amounting to P1.26 million. Of that pool of donations, P1 million came from a single individual, Jose Enrique Africa, executive director of the think tank IBON. (Casiño’s father, lawyer Amador Casiño, donated P500,000 and P200,000 to Bayan Muna during the 2007 and 2004 elections, but he is not listed as among the organization’s donors in the 2010 polls.)

Landed, affluent

Based on available data, Casiño, like his four House colleagues now gunning for the Senate, was already landed by the time he first assumed public office. But unlike the four, Casiño would remain to have only one real estate property — a 2.5-hectare agricultural land in Infanta, Quezon — from 2004 to 2010.

To be sure, though, the SALNs that PCIJ has on file for Casiño and his colleagues are incomplete. The latest it has on Casiño is his 2010 SALN; for Angara, Ejercito, and Magsaysay, 2009; and for Ponce Enrile, 2004. The Center’s request for copies of the 2011 SALNs of all congressmen remains pending at the House.

Nevertheless, the documents on hand show that apart from Casiño, all the House members who have now joined the Senate race have real properties located in their own bailiwicks or provinces that are popular vacation destinations, or wealthy cities in Metro Manila. Two even owned property abroad.

Angara owned the most number of real properties. In his July 2004 SALN, Angara declared having two land parcels and another two with buildings, one condominium, and one and half of a townhouse that were acquired between 1995 and 2003. He declared three new entries in his 2007 SALN, namely, two land parcels in Aurora and one condominium purchased in 2007 and 1999, respectively. The condominium, though, was not declared in his 2004 and 2005 SALNs.

As of 2009, Angara declared a total of eight and half real properties located in Aurora, Batangas, Baguio City, Makati, Manila, and Pasig City.

Condos, cribs abroad

Magsaysay owned the most number of condominiums by far. In 2008, she purchased six condominiums that cost P24.1 million in total. One is located in Makati City, two in Pasig City, and three in Taguig City. The year after, in 2009, she purchased two other condominiums located in Pasig City and Batangas that cost P6.6 million in total.

Aside from the condominiums, Magsaysay had declared since 2004 her acquisition of a townhouse in Xavierville in 1997 and a house and lot in Katipunan Avenue in 2000. She also inherited a lot in Davao City and townhouses in Philam Homes in 2004.

Enrile and Ejercito, similarly, had owned only three pieces of real estate each as of 2004 and 2009, respectively, including properties located in the United States.

By the time Enrile came to office in June 1998, he had three residential properties: one in Nasugbu, Batangas, one in Aparri, Cagayan, and another in San Francisco, California. He stated in his SALN that the purchase of this California property is “still being determined.” He did not enroll his property in California beginning 1999 in his SALN and acquired a residential property in Urdaneta Village, Makati City in 2000.

For his part, Ejercito declared three residential house and lots in his 2001 SALN. The one in Addition Hills, San Juan City was bought in 1994, while those in Bel-Air, Makati City and Redwood Shores, California were bought in 2000. He did not enroll his property in Addition Hills in his 2007 SALN, but declared another residential property in Garfield Street, San Juan City in his 2008 SALN.

Angara and Magsaysay were first elected to office in 2004 and they are presently serving their third and last consecutive term in Congress. In their July 2004 SALNs, Angara declared a net worth of P112.27 million, and Magsaysay, P70.16 million.

The figure shows that Angara was 276 percent wealthier compared with his father Ed Angara, whose net worth was P29.86 million in 2004.

Ponce Enrile has been in Congress since 1998, except from 2007 to 2010 when his wife ran in his stead, while Ejercito was the mayor of San Juan City from 2001 to 2010 before he became its congressman. Ponce Enrile declared a net worth of P93.66 million in his June 1998 SALN and Ejercito P52.65 million in his 2000 SALN.

Teddy a tad richer

And then we have Casiño, who was first elected to Congress in 2004 as Bayan Muna party-list representative and declared a wealth of P307, 900. But the party-list representative turned out to have something in common with at least two of his other colleagues who are eyeing Senate slots: a substantial decrease in net worth since assuming public office (based on their oldest and latest available SALNs).

Casiño’s net worth fell from P307,900 in 2004 to P91,000 in 2011 or by 70.44 percent in seven years. His 2010 SALN is the latest on file with PCIJ in which he declared a net worth of P91,000. The reason for the decrease is both a matter of disparity in computation and additional liability.

In his July 2004 SALN, Casiño used the current fair market value (P250,000) of the agricultural land parcel in Quezon to compute his total real properties. In his 2010 SALN, however, he used the acquisition cost (P125,000) instead. He also declared a new entry under “liabilities”: some “personal loans” valued at P110,000. This could explain why his net worth fell despite additional entries in personal assets, among them a P56,000 motorcycle in 2008, a P12,000 air-conditioner in 2006, and an P8,000 refrigerator in 2008.

The party-list representative also declared financial interests in a “fish pond operation” in Aklan under “Salvador Acevedo and heirs.”

Like Casiño, Ponce Enrile saw his net worth decrease as well, from P93.66 million in 1998 to P76.73 million in 2011 or by 18 percent in 13 years. Verification is limited, however, because Ponce Enrile’s 2004 SALN is the latest on file with PCIJ, in which he declared a net worth of P93.77 million. He reported slight increases and decreases in his net worth until 2004.

Ponce Enrile declared his interests in seven companies, among them the family-owned JAKA Investments Corporation, where he was once president and chief executive officer, and JAKA Power Corporation.

Sonny rises, falls

Angara’s net worth also dropped, but by a smaller percentage. From P112.27 million in 2004, his 2011 net worth was at P98.93 million in 2011, or a decline of 11.88 percent over the last seven years. His 2009 SALN is the latest on file with PCIJ in which he declared a net worth of P93.11 million. Available documents also show that Angara and his wife Elvira were majority stockholders in seven companies; one acquired in 1985 and 1994, three in 2003, and two in 2008.

The decrease in 2009, however, was due largely to his distinct method of computation. Among the five congressmen, only Angara practiced deducting a certain amount of “accumulated depreciation” in the total acquisition cost of his real and personal assets every year. He also deducted a certain amount of contingent losses as part of his liabilities in his 2005, 2007, 2008, and 2009 SALNs.

Excluding the indicated deductions, Angara’s wealth essentially increased over the years. He had more real properties in 2009 than in 2004. The amount of his cash, vehicles and boats, and “furniture/paintings/books/movables/appliances” were substantially bigger in 2009 than in 2004.

Bought a lot as a student

Interestingly, the data suggest that Angara acquired many of these assets while he was a law student at the University of the Philippines, Diliman (1995-2000) and then during his very short stint (2000-20002) as associate attorney in the litigation department of his father’s famed law firm Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz (ACCRA), and finally as a student at Harvard University (2002-2003).

Indeed, the data also show that many of these properties were acquired in 1999: three vehicles, two boats, two condominiums, and one and half of a townhouse that cost P7.113 million in total. He spent the largest amount in 2003, also the year of his marriage to Elvira, when he bought a P34.6 million “land/building” (with cost of improvements) in Makati City. In news reports, he said his properties in 2004 already include those of his wife.

Ejercito and Magsaysay, by comparison, both reported a net worth growth in 2011. Their 2009 SALNs are the latest on file with PCIJ.

Ejercito’s net worth rose from P52.65 million in 2000 to P69.1 million in 2011 or by 31.26 percent over the last 11 years. His net worth grew to P63.96 million in 2009 largely because of a new entry, a P34.5-million residential house and lot in San Juan City that was acquired in 2008.

Among the five House members campaigning for a Senate seat, Ejercito enrolled the most number of and provided the most detailed information on his business interests. He had financial interests in 20 businesses, which were acquired between 1993 and 2000. He enrolled the same names of companies from his 2000 SALN to his 2009 SALN.

A reverse search on the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) corporate records database showed that Ejercito was listed as incorporator and trustee in the 2011 Articles of Incorporation of M Power Club, Inc. This company was registered in SEC on November 3, 2011. Verification was limited, however, because PCIJ has no file of Ejercito’s 2011 SALN.

Hubby into business

In the meantime, Magsaysay’s net worth rose from P70.16 million in 2004 to P76.33 million in 2011 or by 8.8 percent in seven years. Her net worth in 2009, however, posted a decrease by P340,000 from the 2004 figure. A record of P41.3 million in personal, bank, car, and institutional loans caused the decrease despite a combined increase of P40.96 million in her real and personal asset.

In 2009, Magsaysay declared two businesses owned by husband Jesus Vicente Magsaysay. Mag Integarated Wood was located in Misamis Oriental, while JOSSMAG Timbor PNG was in Papua New Guinea.

Magsaysay’s personal net worth was a contrast to the pork she received in 2010: P35,000. She did not receive any pork allocations from 2011 to 2013. Magsaysay is a known political ally of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who is the current administration’s political rival.

By comparison, of the four other House members, Angara was allocated the largest amount of pork: P209 million from June 2010 to March 2013. Ejercito came in next at P207 million; Enrile was given P190 million, while Casiño, the smallest amount of P175.93 million. — PCIJ, May 2013