Thursday, May 2, 2013
Legarda assails for not declaring multi-million pesos property in SALN
By KIMBERLY JANE TAN
Re-electionist Senator Loren Legarda was one of the 20 senators who last year convicted former Chief Justice Renato Corona for failure to disclose properties in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN). Now, she herself is being accused of doing the same—an accusation the senator described as mere black propaganda.
In a statement released to the media, self-proclaimed "public interest defender and anti-corruption crusader" Louis Biraogo said Legarda purchased for $700,000 a condominium unit in New York City on May 9, 2006. A search with the New York City Registry of Property Deeds confirmed that Legarda was named owner of residential condominium unit 10B located at 77 Park Avenue in New York City on the said date.
The problem, Biraogo said, is that the unit was not declared in her SALNs for 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010. He added that although it was eventually declared in her 2011 SALN, she did not explain where she got the money to acquire the unit. “Mas masahol pa si Senator Loren Legarda kay impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona sa pagtatago ng yaman at pagsusumite ng palsipikadong statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN). Ang dapat itawag kay Legarda ay Lady Corona," he said. Legarda admitted to owning the NY property and said that she has a certification that the SALN she filed in 2007 included the New York property. "[It was] described as 'Other Investment' in Annex A, in the amount of P7,175,000 equal to one-fourth of the total investment in the acquisition of apartment amounting to P28,700,000.
Beginning December 31, 2007 up to December 31, 2010, the same property was also included on the SALN described as 'Equity in Real Property', also one-fourth of the total P28,700,000. As of December 31, 2011 and December 31, 2012 the New York property was also included in my SALN described as 'Real Property-USA'," she said in a statement released Thursday. SALNs According to SALNs provided by GMA News Research, Legarda declared an "equity in real property (co-owned with brothers etc)" in the amount of P7.175 million under her "personal and other property." She indicated the same in her 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 SALNs.
However, she did not specifically indicate the NY unit in any of her SALNs. She also only classified the "equity in real property" under her real properties in her 2007, 2008, and 2011 SALNs. According to the Civil Service Commission (CSC), the declaration of real properties must include the description, kind, location, year and mode of acquisition, assessed value, fair market value, acquisition cost of the land, building, including the improvements made. "The declarant shall indicate a description of the real properties, whether it is a land only or land with building, a house and lot, condominium unit, or an improvement such as an extension or garage, and the like," it said. In his statement, Biraogo also said that Legarda underdeclared the acquisition cost of the property at P27.8 million since what she paid in 2006 was valued at P35.9 million since the exchange rate was P51.40 to a dollar.
He likewise said her declaration of the property in her 2011 SALN is just a "cover-up" which he said would supposedly not save her from graft, perjury, plunder, money laundering cases, among others. "Wala bang kahihiyan si Legarda? Guilty verdict ang ipinataw niya kay Corona gayung siya pala mismo ay hindi nagdedeklara ng tama sa kanyang SALN. May mukha pa siyang naipapakita sa campaign sorties ng Team PNoy gayung hindi tuwid bagkus ay baluktot ang kanyang landas na tinatahak?" he said. "Ito ang dapat isipin ni Legarda. Si Corona ay Chief Justice na nga pero hindi pa rin siya nakalusot dahil lalabas at lalabas ang totoo. So, sa ngayon pa lang ay dapat nang mag-withdraw si Legarda sa eleksyon dahil ang suma-tutal ay mapapatalsik rin siya tulad ni Corona," he said. 'Black propaganda' Legarda, however, said that she is just being attacked because of her ranking in poll surveys. "Hindi po ako magtatago sa anomang anomalya dahil ako po ay naglilingkod ng tapat sa bayan. Isa po itong black propaganda dahil di po ako natitinag sa pagiging number one," she said in a statement released Thursday. The senator also said it is "deplorable that people, possibly even some fellow candidates, could engage in such gutter politics, diverting people from the real issues." “It’s political season and I have survived to answer clearly all the black propaganda hurled against me. I challenge the source of all this to come clean. I ask other candidates to stick to what we as candidates can do to address the problems facing the country,” she said. "Hindi po sila nakuntento sa pagkalat ng mga kasinungalingan, ngayon ito po ang inimbento. Lahat po ito ay walang katotohanan at handa po akong humarap sa kahit kanino. At ipagdadasal ko na lang po sila," she added. Biraogo has filed several cases before the Supreme Court, including a petition to ban members of political dynasties from running in the 2013 elections and for the executive branch to elevate the country's territorial claim over Sabah to the international court. He was also among those who filed a petition questioning the constitutionality of the Cybercrime Law. In 2008, he was accused of circulating a draft of a Supreme Court ruling on his petition questioning the citizenship of Rep. Jocelyn Limkaichong. —KG/BM, GMA News