Getting Out of Debt The Benitez Way

So I discussed the controversial case of PWU and STI with other writers of Get Real Post and it was generally agreed that it’s a real life example of how Pinoys dig themselves into poverty.

Good old Benign0 has been saying for years that poverty is simply entering into obligations that you can’t fulfill and to me, that really sounds like borrowing money that one has no intention of paying back.

I can sympathize with really poor folk who borrow money when they are faced with sickness or death in the family. When my son’s yaya rushed her four year old kid into a private hospital because she had a serious bout with pneumonia, I shouldered the entire bill and then some. I would have written off the whole amount but I was prevailed upon by someone else to let her pay off the debt at P500 a month, just so that my son’s yaya would learn a thing or two about paying debts.

utang mo benitez bayaran mo naThen again, there is the other sort person who borrows money for stupid, selfish reasons and the worst of those reasons is having to maintain some sort of lifestyle that is beyond their means.  That’s the sort of person who blows their entire income on luxuries items and then borrows money for their daily needs, like food or fare. It can be an employee who earns P15,000 a month who buys the newest Iphone or a lowly laborer who finances his drinking spree by having all of this drinks as well as grub entered into the store’s listahan.

My mother sums it up quite nicely by saying, “If you earn a million pesos a month and spend a hundred pesos more than what you have, you’ll still be poor because you actually have than what you have.”

I know, it’s a very simple notion but it’s one that has kept me out of huge and long term debt. But as good as that advice is I recognize that it is more easily applied to personal finances.

There are situations where businesses must spend more than it earns especially when their speculating on a path of growth or are going into a seasonal slump or have suffered some kind of setback.  One reason is that suppliers and employees have to be paid, no matter what — that is, unless, you want your business to really bite the dust.

Thing is, if the shocking facts about how the Bentiezes ran PWU were true, it would look like they weren’t borrowing money to finance expansion or get them through a slump. As hard as it is to say, folks, it’s a big NOPE.

Thing is, the Benitezes are all over the place telling everyone that the reason why they are going against STI Group’s plans to “commercialize” the land where JASMS EDSA is located is because the parents of students signified their opposition to it.

HOW CONVENIENT, really. And as it turns out, IT IS COMPLETELY UNTRUE.

But before that, let me ask all those who are loyal to the Benitezes and the parents of students in PWU and JASMS if they were told and agreed to PWU  funding Amelou’s gold hunting expedition or Jolly’s foolish financing of the acquisition of inalienable (not for sale) land in Caliraya? Probably not, because my informants tell me that this is the first time that they’ve heard of it and seen the papers.

Going back to the Benitezes and the commercialization of part of JASMS EDSA’s one hectare lot, as it turns out, THE BENITEZES WERE ALL FOR IT.

The Benitez family keeps making people believe that the reason why they wanted to get out of their loan agreement with STI Holdings is because the family was against the plan to put up a mixed used property project in its JASMS property in Quezon City. It was the deal breaker, the Benitezes said, in an article that came out in Interaksyon.

However, documents sent to us seem to tell a completely different story. Not only were the Benitezes supportive of the plan to develop the property, but its patriarch, Jolly Benitez, also wanted to transfer the entire school all the way to Fairview.

According to the minutes of meeting in the Unlad (sister company of PWU which manages the school properties), Jolly Benitez reasoned that not only would transferring JASMS to Fairview allow for more open spaces, they would also be able to buy a new property for a lower price.

Here’s a screenshot of the May 8, 2014 minutes of the Unlad board:

sale of pwu assets

The screenshot reads…

5.2 Construction of New School Building

Mr. Tanco informed the Board that the new JASMS QC Building that will be constructed along EDSA, Quezon City will have ten floors with a total floor areas of around Ten Thousand Square Meters (10,000 sqm.).

Mr. Jose Conrado B. Benitez (“Mr. J. Benitez”) pointed out that the new school building for JASMS QC is against or contrary to the JASMS philosophy of individualized learning and open space. Mr. J. Benitez suggested that the Board consider transferring JASMS QC to Fairview where parcels of land can be bought at a cheaper price, hence, allowing the school to have an open space. Mr. Tanco,emphasized that the current location of JASMS QC is a good one and although the Ten Thousand Square Meters (10,000 sqm) floor area may take time to fill in, the potential, is, nevertheless, present.

However, Mr. Eusebio Tanco tried to convince the Unlad board to keep JASMS in its current location. He said the project would have an al fresco area between the school and the mall. Ayala would also build an open space in the roof deck to comply with the open space requirements of JASMS.

sale of pwu assets2

Mr. Tanco informed that Board that there will be an open space or al fresco between the school and the mall. In addition, the open space at the roof deck of the mall may also be used by the school, which should be enough to comply with JASMS’ philosophy regarding open space.

Mr. J. Benitez withdrew his objection on the construction of the 10 story JASMS QC Building provided the school can construct a bridge at the fifth floor of the School to gain access to the roof dec of the mall. He also suggested that the Board consider leasing a land across the street at Vertis North to have additional open space.

No one from the Benitezes had anything to say, other than Jolly’s idea of moving JASMS to Fairview.

In fact, the Benitezes have long been trying to evict JASMS out of the EDSA property QC to give way to a commercial and residential area there. In the mid-1990s, the Benitezes managed to get P250 million from Jardine Land to do exactly this. Nothing came out of this Benitez-initiated project — and strangely, all the money was gone.

That is why Jardine foreclosed a 1.1-hectare portion of the JASMS property, which the STI group bought back from Jardine to the tune of P250 million. These are facts that no one from the Benitez could manage to deny in their press releases.

The challenge now for the Benitezes is to deny these discussions in the Unlad Board. Can they deny that Jolly Benitez wanted to transfer JASMS to Fairview? And did they really oppose the project as they claim in their press releases?

Not really, especially now that the same document shows that three members of the Benitez family signed the minutes of this May 8, 2014 board meeting, namely PWU President Francisco Benitez, Conrado Benitez II, and Alfredo Benitez Reyes.

sale of pwu assets3

People from PWU who gave us these documents also sent three more sets of minutes of the Unlad board. Apart from the May 8 meeting, the Unlad board also met in March 25, 2013, one in November 20, 2013, and another in February 27, 2014. In all these meetings, the proposed development project with Ayala was discussed and in all the minutes, it was mostly majority members of the Benitez family who were all for it.

For instance, in March 25 meeting, five out of eight directors were from the Benitez group:

Alfredo B. Reyes-Benitez, Jose Conrado Benitez, Conrado Benitez, Jose Francisco Benitez, and Bienvenido F. Santiago. It was in this meeting that the idea of developing JASMS was brought up, starting with the creation of a construction committee.

sale of pwu assets4

In the November 20, 2013 meeting, five of the seven directors who approved the minutes were also from the Benitez board: Jose Franciso Benitez, Jose Conrado Benitez, Alfredo Reyes, Conrado Benitez, and Bienvenido Santiago. Here, the board designated no other than Jolly Benitez (father of PWU Pesident Kiko Benitez) to head the newly-formed construction committee.

Meanwhile, four of seven directors—namely Francisco Benitez, Alfredo Reyes, Conrado Benitez, and Bienvenido Santiago—approved the minutes of the February 27, 2014 meeting of the Board. In this meeting, the board was already tackling the details of the joint venture with Ayala.

You would wonder: Was there anything in the discussion to confirm that the Benitezes vehemently opposed the project with Ayala, as they claimed in the news and among their alumni, parents, and students? Certainly they would have said something since they form majority of the board.

To be fair, the father of PWU President Jolly Benitez, Mr. Jolly Benitez, brought a matter that is very important for him. In the November 20 meeting, he stood to make this very urgent point:

sale of pwu assets5

Mr. Jose Conrado Benitez (“Mr. J. Benitez”) stated that the parking structures should not be too far from the shopping mall as people might not be inclined to go to the same if they have to cover a long distance from the parking to the mall. Mr. Tanco stated that ALI will have already considered Mr. J. Benitez’s concern since ALI has already constructed several malls.

Yes, dear alumni and parents of JASMS parents, the father of PWU President can only manage to come up with one pressing subject matter – PARKING.

So that sums up the “strong opposition” of the Benitez family to the development project in JASMS. The first one is they want to move the school to Fairview and second one, they want better parking.

Is this the #SavePWU crusade the Benitezes are talking about?

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Post Author: Paul Farol

Try not to take me too seriously.

9 thoughts on “Getting Out of Debt The Benitez Way

    […] a blog post titled, “Getting Out of Debt, the Benitez Way,” Get Real Philippines said not only were the Benitezes in approval of the JASMS development plan, […]

    ChinoF

    (January 14, 2015 - 9:15 am)

    More proof I guess that ever the private sector can be corrupt.

    Lyca Benitez-Brown

    (January 14, 2015 - 2:39 pm)

    Dear GetRealPhilippines,

    PWU/the Benitez family filed a case in court vs. the Tanco Group on Jan. 6, 2015.

    Earlier, Paul Farol approached us with this offer:

    ———- Forwarded message ———-
    From: Paul Farol
    Date: Sun, Dec 28, 2014 at 2:08 PM
    Subject: Re: Fw: Contacts
    To: (email removed by admin)
    Cc: Lydia Brown

    I think you guys are doing a splendid job on the matter already. The thing that JP can bring in his clout with the mainstream media and it’s pretty substantial, but then, it’s best used only after a sound strategy has been laid out… not only for the crisis but for decades down the road.

    Thing is, right now, to counter the perception that there’s an attempt to weasel out of financial obligations.

    As most loans go, things are carefully stipulated including the schedule and manner of payment — even with very friendly loans or personal loans. At least, in my experience and in the experience of my clients.

    People, specifically journalists, would want to see the loan agreement or what have you. Statements can only go so far and as far as court cases go, they tend to get buried or not published for fear of sub judice, until a decision is reached. Sometimes such decisions don’t even merit good coverage.

    So, in most cases, without proper handling, the only thing people remember is the controversy and not the resolution.

    In anycase, I am here for whatever else you may need.
    ___________
    This is Lyca B. Brown again:

    When I thanked Paul and told him we already had a Crisis PR team in place, he disappeared for a few days then started his attacks on us. Obviously he is now getting information from the Tanco group (who control the CorpSec position in PWU/Unlad). What Paul does not present in his blogs are the minutes of the meetings where the Benitezes objected to the specific terms of the STI-Ayala deal:
    1. Reducing the school’s footprint to 2,700sqm in a 9-storey bldg. to be constructed on Mr. Tanco’s side of the property (for which PWU/JASMS would have to pay him rent).
    2. PWU having to borrow another P500M from STI for the development.

    STI signed a deal with Ayala Land for the entire property based on the joint venture agreement between STI and Unlad which had NOT yet been ratified. When JASMS and the Benitez family objected, Mr. Tanco served PWU a default demand (for payment of P925M in 7 days), held an illegal PWU board meeting, appointed his people as Chairman, President and Board members and publicly threatened to takeover PWU/JASMS. We are not in default (as our legal complaint points out) therefore challenge all their subsequent actions. We want to pay Mr. Tanco for the P450M he invested/lent to PWU (with a reasonable return on his money because he signed a waiver on the interest and penalties on the loan he is now using as his basis for his demand). We are still hoping that an amicable settlement can be worked out that is fair and just. We decry the vilification campaign that is currently being waged on social media (your site included) calculated to damage the Benitez family’s reputation and our ability to raise the funds necessary to pay Mr. Tanco back.

      Paul Farol (@paulfarol)

      (January 14, 2015 - 8:23 pm)

      Typical of you MISS LYCA/LYDIA BENITEZ BROWN not to tell the complete story of how this email to you came about.

      For everyone’s information, my involvement in this controversy was born out of concern for my alma mater after a classmate of mine from JASMS reached out to me through Facebook asking me to help spread the message regarding STI’s “ILLEGAL TAKEOVER” on PWU.

      I volunteered to help and in volunteering, I immediately disclosed to my classmate as well as Lyca Benitez brown that I did work as a social media and PR consultant.

      I was told that the Benitezes didn’t have money to pay for PR services and I assured my classmate that I would provide what ever services I could free of charge, including advice.

      Figuring that PWU’s best chance of getting their message out to their stakeholders (the people who would be most affected by the controversy), I created a Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/SavePWU) and set it up , targetting students of PWU. I spent over P6,000 of my own money boosting posts and promoting the page.

      I reached out to journalist friends whom I knew would most likely be interested in JASMS-PWU’s side of the story.

      Thing is, at some point, Lyca or Lydia Benitez Brown asked to have her daughter and son in law made into admins of the page that I created. I obliged, although I found that a little off-putting since I had built that page and already spent money on it.

      Then there came an email from Lyca/Lydia Brown asking me to provide her with contact details of bloggers and journalists. And THIS IS THE EMAIL THAT PRECEDED THE ONE QUOTED BY MS. LYDIA/LYCA BROWN ABOVE

      —-

      We are using social media to help get PWU/JASMS/the Benitez family’s message out there and need your help. Could you please send me email addresses of “key influencers” (writers, politicians, govt. leaders?). We will not pester them – we will just make sure they become aware of what we are fighting for.

      Thank you!

      Lyca

      —-

      I hesitated to respond, actually. Because, already having told her that my work involved PR consultancy, and knowing that she was PWU’s Media Director (which is short hand for in-house PR), Ms. Lyca/Lydia Brown should have been aware that such “contacts” are veritable resources of PR firms and with those contact details come trust as well as good will built over years of engaging with them.

      Holding back my first impulse (which was to tell her off), I wrote back and spelled things out for her.

      Sorry ma’am, I can’t. Those email addresses are held in confidence between be and my partner. I hope you understand.

      Otherwise, these people are online anyway and you can get in touch with them.

      Lydia/Lyca answered back…

      “I understand, Paul. I’ve asked Nick C to start circulating the other video clips. We need to ramp up the pressure. Thanks!”

      —-

      But, lo and behold, my classmate forwards me the very same email from Lyca and I thought, “Ang kulit naman nito.”

      And so I shot back a longer email…

      —-

      Lani,

      As I have told Ms. Brown, the contacts details I have of politicians, columnists, and reporters are held in trust between me and my partner. These cannot be given away.

      We can contact them on PWU’s behalf but that would require engaging our firm, 1911PR. Thing is, my partner JP Fenix could do a whole lot more for PWU, since he’s a highly respected PR man as well as strongly connected with the management of news organizations — Inquirer, Star, ABS-CBN, GMA7, etcetera. But, I guess, that’s something that you still have to consider at this point.

      Nevertheless, I’ve already told Ms. Brown that perhaps one person could help is Ms. Inday Varona Espina and she can be easily contacted through Facebook or Twitter. She’s with change.org, a very powerful website devoted to propagating causes — as I am sure you are aware.

      Also, I’ve already set you guys off in a good direction through the Facebook Page Save Philippine Women’s University and this could be the foundation for all your efforts.

      In any case, I am volunteering whatever else help I can give… be it counsel or actual work I can do.

      —-

      It was after this exchange that Ms. Lyca informed me that they had already engaged a PR firm.

      —-

      Thank for your sound advice, Paul. We appreciate all the work you have already volunteered and thank you for your proposal to continue the collaboration on a more professional basis. I am not sure if I mentioned this earlier but we do already have a crisis PR group in place. Nonetheless, all other efforts to help SAVE PWU & JASMS are welcome.

      Happy New Year!

      Lyca

      —-

      And I answered her back saying, “Kudos to your crisis PR group, then.”

      Moreover, it is NOT TRUE that I ceased to communicate with Ms. Lyca Brown.

      On January 5, I notified her along with her daughter and son in law that I had been tagged in a post that raised issues against the Benitezes…

      —-

      Received: by 10.107.133.27 with HTTP; Sun, 4 Jan 2015 19:48:59 -0800 (PST)
      Date: Mon, 5 Jan 2015 11:48:59 +0800
      Subject: Got tagged on FB regarding the STI issue
      From: Paul Farol
      To: Lydia Brown , Lani Ebrada ,
      Nick Campbell , Alix Brown <

      Hi guys,

      just notifying you that I got tagged in a post on the STI issue. Atanacio
      Salvador is just someone I know through social media.

      Anyway, if you want to clarify issues and be seen, I suggest you engage
      people here.

      https://www.facebook.com/atanacio.salvador/posts/10202231649711022?notif_t=tagged_with_story

      —-

      Thing is, neither did Ms. Benitez nor anyone from PWU post replies on the Facebook post that I emailed to them.

      Then, in her response to me via email, I felt Ms. Benitez Brown was being EVASIVE with the way she answered the issues raised against how PWU was being run.

      Instead of answering the issue head on, she told me that they were filing charges against STI in court.

      In PR, that's called LEGAL STONEWALLING and after years of experience, I've come to see it as a signal that someone is hiding something bad.

      Paul Farol

      (January 14, 2015 - 8:52 pm)

      And oh, Miss Lyca… A blog that I stumbled upon tends to fly smack in the face of your previous claims the Benitezes are against STI because it wanted to commercialize the JASMS QC property.

      The blog states that IT WAS JOLLY BENITEZ who actually thought of moving JASMS QC to Fairview so that the entire campus could be commercialized…

      Check it out here…

      https://aristocraticthieves.wordpress.com/2015/01/13/the-90s-benitez-deal-where-did-the-p250m-jasms-development-fund-from-hk-firm-go/

      In the mid-1990s, Jolly Benitez, the father of PWU President Kiko Benitez, had an ambitious plan. He wanted to transfer pupils and students of JASMS in Quezon City to some remote location in Fairview.

      The idea was simple and straightforward. For the Benitezes, the JASMS property located in EDSA had grown so much in value that Jolly figured they would get more profits if they just evict the school community there and turn the entire place into shopping malls and condos.

      Jolly, a known Marcos crony and former deputy minister of Imelda Marcos’ Ministry of Human Settlements, had commissioned the formulation of a development plan for his commercial property project.

      The 1990s represented the first phase of mall projects boom and the plan Jolly had for JASMS was so enticing that the Benitezes managed to get the attention of Hongkong firm Jardine Land. In no time, Jardine was in on the idea, lending the Benitezes P250 million to proceed with the project.

      However, after taking the cash from Jardine, nothing came out of the plan. Not a single structure was put up. Nada!

      Today, they just go around telling people that the 1997 financial crisis literally blew all that money into smoke. They have yet to account to the public where the P250 million ended up.

      But Jardine did not buy the financial crisis excuse. That is why the Hongkong-based company went to court and foreclosed a big portion of the JASMS property — about 1.1 hectares.

      When the Benitezes were wooing its most recent creditor, the STI group, they again dangled the JASMS property. They even managed to convince the new creditors to buy back from Jardine the 1.1 hectare property so the commercialization project, masterplanned by the Jolly Benitez, could continue.

      These are all documented facts. These completely negate all claims by the Benitez family that the deal breaker with its partnership with STI was the development plan on JASMS. They completely – and conveniently – failed to tell JASMS parents and alumni that the whole thing was the Benitezes’ idea all along. Why do you think Jardine and STI loaned them money to begin with?

      The online Philippine news magazine and commentary website, Get Real Philippines, was brave enough to show proof of how the Benitezes was in on the development project for the JASMS property in QC.

      Somehow, the enterprising people behind the website managed to obtain minutes of the board meeting of UNLAD – the sister company of PWU and the one managing the properties of the school – which show how deeply involved the Benitezes were in the commercial project for JASMS.

      In a blog post titled, “Getting Out of Debt, the Benitez Way,” Get Real Philippines said not only were the Benitezes in approval of the JASMS development plan, the family was again assertive of the original plan to throw the JASMS school in Fairview, where lots can be bought cheap.

      Here are some excerpts of the Unlad board meeting which took place last May 8, 2014, as reported by Get Real Philippines.

      “Mr. J. Benitez suggested that the Board consider transferring JASMS QC to Fairview where parcels of land can be bought at a cheaper price, hence, allowing the school to have an open space. Mr. Tanco,emphasized that the current location of JASMS QC is a good one and although the Ten Thousand Square Meters (10,000 sqm) floor area may take time to fill in, the potential, is, nevertheless, present.

      “Mr. Tanco informed that Board that there will be an open space or al fresco between the school and the mall. In addition, the open space at the roof deck of the mall may also be used by the school, which should be enough to comply with JASMS’ philosophy regarding open space.”

      Surprisingly, it was Mr. Tanco who fought to keep the JASMS in EDSA, not the Benitezes. No one from the Benitez clan can contradict these facts as the minutes of the board meeting was signed by their family members, including PWU President Kiko Benitez.

      The Get Real Philippines blog also showed three more minutes of the UNLAD board, dated March 25, 2013, November 20, 2013, and February 27, 2014, where the JASMS joint venture with Ayala was discussed and subsequently signed by the Benitez-dominated UNLAD board.

      And in all these discussions, the Benitezes never opposed the project. One of its members, again Jolly Benitez, only raised one point – parking space. In the November 20 meeting, he stood up to say this:

      Mr. Jose Conrado Benitez (“Mr. J. Benitez”) stated that the parking structures should not be too far from the shopping mall as people might not be inclined to go to the same if they have to cover a long distance from the parking to the mall. Mr. Tanco stated that ALI will have already considered Mr. J. Benitez’s concern since ALI has already constructed several malls.

      So amidst the deal with Jardine and the emotional war the Benitez followers are launching against STI, we pose this one simple question: Where did the money go?

      Paul Farol

      (January 14, 2015 - 9:13 pm)

      How, pray tell will the Benitezes raise funds to pay STI back with interest? Borrow again?

      Thing is, we suspect that the Benitezes wanted to keep their poor financial management a secret so that they can pay off one loan for another?

      Funny!!! Ano yan, credit card debt. Solution, apply for another credit card?

    […] her self created Ministry of Human Settlements and concurrent head of the Metro Manila Commission. (Getting Out of Debt the Benitez Way) The debt to cover older debts scheme – like credit card misuse by ordinary folk – begged the […]

    offset

    (July 1, 2015 - 3:29 pm)

    simply put, live within your means

    […] her self created Ministry of Human Settlements and concurrent head of the Metro Manila Commission. (Getting Out of Debt the Benitez Way) The debt to cover older debts scheme – like credit card misuse by ordinary folk – begged the […]

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