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Suspected Binay dummy firms owned by Mercado, Limlingan tells CA.

Two "dummy corporations" that allegedly cornered most of the service contracts in the Makati City government when Vice President Jejomar C. Binay was still city mayor were originally owned by former vice mayor Ernesto Mercado.

This was disclosed in a motion filed last week with the Court of Appeals (CA) by Binay's alleged trusted aide Gerardo Limlingan Jr., who pleaded for the lifting of the freeze order issued against his bank and financial accounts and those of his business associates and relatives.

Limlingan told the CA that Mercado was the original owner of OMNI Security and Investigation and General Services (OMNI) and Meriras Realty & Development Corporation (MERIRAS).

Mercado had testified before the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee and the Office of the Ombudsman that OMNI and MERIRAS were the dummy firms of Vice President Binay when he was still mayor of Makati City.

The former vice mayor's testimony became the basis for the recommendation to file criminal charges against Binay and his son, suspended Mayor Jejomar Erwin "Junjun" Binay, and several others, and one of the reasons for the issuance of the CA freeze order on Limlingan's assets.

"However, it must be underscored that contrary to the false accusations of Mercado, OMNI and MERIRAS were originally Mercado's companies. It was Mercado who incorporated and managed the business and affairs of the foregoing companies until the year 2010 when he sold his shares to respondent Limlingan as payment for the loan extended by the respondent to him," Limlingan said.

He said that when OMNI was incorporated in December, 1999, the firm's president was Mercado's long-time friend and business partner Jose Orillaza.

William Co was Orillaza's nominee in OMNI while Remedios Zoriaga, Zenaida Yato, and Lucia Salvador were Mercado's nominees in the firm, he said.


"Subsequently, Mercado borrowed money from respondent Limlingan, which loan was slowly equitized through the transfer of shares in favor of respondent Limlingan's nominees. Even as respondent already became a shareholder of OMNI, the business of the company remained under the control of Mercado.

"Sometime in 2010, after Mercado's lost in his bid for the mayoralty in the City of Makati, Mercado sought financial help from respondent Limlingan. In order to help Mercado whom respondent considered a good friend, albeit mistakenly, respondent Limlingan offered to buy the shares of Mercado in OMNI.

"Thus, in November, 2010, respondent was able to acquire 80 percent of the company from Mercado. It was only at this point that respondent Limlingan became more involved in running the business of OMNI.

"As regards MERIRAS, the same was incorporated on 13 December 1990 and originally owned by Mercado, together with his long-time friend and business partner former Makati city engineer Nelson Irasga. Indeed, the name of MERIRAS is a combination of the first syllable of their names: MERcado and IRASga.

"Indeed, at one point, Olivia Caballa, the househelp of Mercado, and Resty Salvador, a distant relative of Mercado, had been appointed as the company's Corporate Secretary and Treasurer, respectively.

"It was only in 1997 that respondent Limlingan acquired 10 shares in MERIRAS."

"Conveniently, none of the foregoing matters, either through negligence or with deliberate intent, were ever raised in the Senate, the Office of the Ombudsman, this Honorable Court, nor told by Mercado."

In his motion, Limlingan asked the CA to lift the freeze order against the "staggering and maliciously misleading" 170 bank and financial accounts reportedly in his name and those of his associates and relatives.

Limlingan said that the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) and the banks failed to prove the existence of most of the 170 accounts prior to the CA freeze order, and that such accounts were related to illegal activities.

The CA freeze order was issued on May 11, 2015 on a petition filed by AMLC on May 7, 2015 through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG).

It covered a total of 242 bank accounts, investments and insurance policies reportedly in the names of Limlingan and his associates and relatives, Mercado, Vice President Binay, and "Junjun" Binay.

The funds in such bank and financial accounts were allegedly derived from irregularities in the construction of the Makati City Hall Building II and Makati City Science High School Building, and from the alleged five percent share in a joint venture with Alphaland.

In his motion, Limlingan assailed the AMLC for relying on the "sweeping and unsubstantiated accusation of Mercado that he is the supposed 'bagman,' 'henchman,' or 'aide' of Vice President Binay, notwithstanding the fact that Mercado's convenient testimony is utterly suspect and clearly motivated by ill will and malice."

Of the 170 accounts, only five accounts were still open and active at the time the freeze order was issued, he stressed.

At the same time, Limlingan told the CA that the freezing of his dollar time deposit account violated Section 8 of Republic Act 6426 or the Foreign Currency Deposit Act of the Philippines.

He also lamented that aside from the accounts covered by the CA freeze order, the AMLC and the banks and financial institutions, "on their own and without filing with this court, also froze numerous accounts of individuals and corporations not listed in the freeze order."

"Indeed, the scope of the freeze order was so sweeping, indiscriminate and baseless that even the savings accounts of my minor granddaughter which only contained a small sum of money was likewise frozen," he said.

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Title Annotation:National
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:Oct 22, 2015
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