By Ben O. Tesiorna
Aside from buying properties in Siargao Island that allegedly reach to half a billion pesos in worth, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez allegedly went into a buying-spree as well in Davao Region where he is serving as representative of the 1st District of Davao del Norte.
One very prominent property rumored to be owned by Alvarez is the property in Matina Shrine Hills in Davao City that is reportedly worth P250 million. The almost 5-hectare property was owned by the Abelleras and located adjacent to the Terrazas Subdivision.
A deed of sale for the said property showed one Jefferson G. Cheng as the buyer of the two lots with a total area of 49,448 square meters priced at P1,300/sqm for a total purchase of P64,282,400.
In previous records from the Davao City Engineer’s Office and the City Building Office, it was Speaker Alvarez who was named as the “perceived owner” of the property based on the people who were back then working on the said property.
The Speaker was also seen frequently in the property last year while a construction was ongoing.
When the City Government cited some violations in the zoning ordinance of the said property back in May 2017, a stoppage order was issued by the Engineering Office addressed to Speaker Alvarez.
Three weeks later, the City Building Office issued a second and final notice still addressed to Speaker Alvarez. But a month later, the city officials made another inspection and were surprised to be informed by the workers that the “new owner” is a certain Jeff Cheng.
Cheng was one of the investors in the controversial Philippine International Air Terminals Company Incorporated (Piatco) and is said to be a very close friend of the Speaker.
THE ALVAREZ-CHENG TIES
Alvarez and Cheng’s ties go way back in 1996 when the Speaker was then the assistant general manager of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) and Cheng was the treasurer of Piatco founded by his father Vic Cheng Yong.
It is public knowledge that Piatco won the bid for the construction of the multi-billion NAIA-3 project despite the presence of a formidable competitor Asia’s Emerging Dragons Corporation (AEDC) led by Lucio Tan.
In 1997, AEDC filed with the Regional Trial Court Pasig a petition for declaration of nullity of proceedings, mandamus and injunction against the DOTC secretary, chairman of the PBAC, the voting members of the PBAC, and Alvarez as chairman of the PBAC technical committee.
When Alvarez became congressman of the 1st District of Davao del Norte, he was the vice chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Communication where he investigated the Piatco deal and upheld its legality.
In 1999, Cheng took Alvarez as one of his children’s godfather.
When Alvarez was appointed DOTC secretary by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, he signed a third supplement to the concession agreement with Piatco. Both Alvarez and Cheng were included in the graft and corruption charges filed by the government against Piatco.
Fast forward to April 2016, the Supreme Court, in its final decision, ruled that the government has to pay Piatco US$510 million as just compensation for the expropriation of NAIA3. In pesos it’s roughly P25.5 trillion.
In Mati City, Davao Oriental, a one-hectare land in Dahican Beach was also reportedly bought by Alvarez for P5 million.
A check with the Municipal Assessors Office in Mati City however showed that Alvarez actually has five properties in the said city – two in Barangay Badas and three in Barangay Matiao.
Alvarez’s Mati properties as reflected in the Assessor’s records have a total of 190,000 sqm or 19 hectares. And most of the properties are either near the Pujada Bay or have actual beachfronts.
Alvarez earlier claimed that his properties in Mati were bought several decades ago while some were his inheritance. But a 3-hectare land in Badas showed that it was just bought sometime in 2016.
Jefferson Cheng also has a 10,000 square meter property in Barangay Peña-Martinez also in Mati City. BOT