MMDA chairman commits ‘boo boo’ with reporter
New MMDA chair gets flak from TV reporter, evades media in office
New MMDA chief sworn in
By Cathy C. Yamsuan, Leila B. Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:41:00 08/04/2010
Filed Under: Government, Graft & Corruption
MANILA, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III Tuesday swore in Francis Tolentino as chair of the Metro Manila Development Authority, dismissing as “simple harassment” accusations that the appointee and his brother had amassed some P500 million in ill-gotten wealth.
Tolentino was among 42 officials who took their oaths under the new administration in simple ceremonies at the Palace.
Among those sworn in were Cayetano Paderanga as director general of the National Economic Development Authority; Angelito Banayo as head of the National Food Authority, and Macra Cruz, officer-in-charge of the beleaguered Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda downplayed the graft charges lodged against Tolentino in a news conference.
“Before (Tolentino) was appointed, he and the President had a talk. (Tolentino is) aware that graft charges would be filed (against him). The President is also aware of the graft cases filed before the Ombudsman,” Lacierda told reporters.
“The President and as well as other sectors view the graft charges against Francis Tolentino as simple harassment,” he added in Filipino.
Lacierda noted that the cases recently filed against Tolentino were made “by those candidates against (a) brother” who won in the last elections.
Tolentino himself is a former mayor of Tagaytay City.
Defeated vice mayoralty candidate in Tagaytay City Ronald Tan had accused Tolentino and his brother Abraham, who is Tagaytay City mayor, of plunder and graft.
Tan, who used to be Tolentino’s executive assistant, said the brothers’ illicit riches came in the form of real estate properties, businesses, vehicles and local and foreign bank deposits, which they could not have amassed through their earnings as public officials or even as businessmen.
Tan claimed that Tolentino had approved blatant land-grabbing activities and questionable auctions of prime lands in the city. He added that Tolentino’s brother Abraham later continued the practice.
He said the auctions were staged, with real estate taxes increased along with zonal values. The time period for auctioning the properties was also shortened to three years from 10 years, he added, leaving land owners with arrears in real estate taxes suddenly without properties to their name. The parcels of land later came under ownership of the Tolentinos’ favored winner or relative, he further said.
“Complainant knows for a fact that all 7-11 franchises in the city are owned by the respondents who likewise own several hotels, restaurants, gasoline stations, buildings, large tracts of land, houses and lots, luxury cars and other wealth which technically and logically cannot be acquired by a city mayor with a salary grade of 30 unless said wealth was amassed through ill-gotten means and unabated graft,” he said.