Vast forest area awarded to one firm posing as five
A LOSING BATTLE: It’s reassuring that once in a timely while, somebody like respected businessman Enrique Zobel speaks up on an urgent concern of the community. He did a few days ago on what he called the “losing battle for our environment.”
“I have always been wondering why our country continues to slide down the slope towards environmental disaster,” he began, “even though a succession of administrations have proclaimed their commitment to environmental protection.”
“From what I see of receding forest cover to the piling up of garbage along many thoroughfares such as the service roads of our South Expressway, I can no longer believe this or any government when it says that it has our environmental situation ‘under control.’
He then zeroed in on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources which, he said, “turned a blind eye to, or worse, connived with those who continue to rape — there is no better word — our natural resources.”
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ALIENS BEHIND PROJECT?: To illustrate what he meant, Zobel cited the DENR’s issuance of Integrated Forest Management Agreements (IFMAs) under circumstance that would make your blood boil. The IFMA is intended to promote the planting of trees in grasslands, brushlands and areas that were once thickly forested but are now denuded.
Zobel gave the facts simply, clearly:
Last May, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Heherson Alvarez approved the IFMAs of five companies — Goldenbell Hills Inc., Caraga Forest Inc., Tecland Inc., Shannalyne Inc. and Transland Inc. — despite the fact that the Forest Management Bureau of the DENR opposed the approvals because the lists of the incorporators of the five companies showed many similarities.
There was suspicion that the interested party was just one company using a corporate veil to appear as five.
After the head of the Forest Management Bureau pointed this out, he was relieved and reassigned to the office of one of the undersecretaries.
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PIERCING CORPORATE VEIL: “Just to check on the tip,” Zobel said, “I had my lawyers inquire from the Securities and Exchange Commission. Sure enough, the documents I now have validate the claims of the Forest Management Bureau.
He went on: “It seems that the five companies were put up by Singaporeans using Filipino dummies. For the company Goldenbell Hills Inc., two Singaporeans are listed: Jean Tan with address at 31 Trevose Crescent, Singapore, with passport number S0201991D issued April 2, 1996, in Singapore; and Shannon Tan Siang-Tau of 57 Rutland Gate, London SW17 1PI, with passport number S7630435A issued Aug. 21, 1998, in Singapore.
“The same Jean Tan appears as incorporator of Caraga Forest Inc. and of Shannalyne Inc. But for Tecland Inc., the name Jean E. M. La’Brooy appears, with Singapore passport number 020199110 (notice the similarity to Jean Tan’s?), issued on April 2, 1996 (just like Jean Tan’s) but with address at 57 Rutland Gate, London SW17 1PL, which is also that of Shannon Tan of Goldenbell Hills). Jean Tan/Jean La’Brooy is treasurer in these companies. Is this one and the same person?”
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INTRIGUING ROLES OF PINOYS: Zobel found that even the Filipinos involved have interesting circumstances:
Ailene David Carlos is listed as incorporator of Goldenbell Hills. At the same time, Ailene David Carlos is listed as incorporator of Caraga Forest, Inc. Her address, listed as Unit 609, Prince Plaza II, Legaspi Village, Makati, is also the postal address of Shannalyne Inc. of which she is not even an incorporator!
Mary Jane Ibay, on the other hand, is incorporator of Tecland Inc. and Shannalyne and is witness to the incorporation papers of Caraga Forest Inc. She gives her address as Del Pilar St., San Fernando, Pampanga.
Marianne T. David who gives her address as Lourdes, Minalin, Pampanga, is incorporator of two companies (Goldenbell Hills and Caraga Forest); while Arlene C. Benedicto of Talavera, Nueva Ecija, is incorporator of at least two companies (Goldenbell and Tecland).
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ALIENS CONTROL FIRMS?: Zobel pointed out that corporations like those mentioned, organized for developing, easing or managing agricultural lands, forests, etc. should be at least 60-percent owned by Filipinos.
While their Articles of Incorporation do state that the Filipino incorporators have, indeed, subscribed to 60 percent of the authorized capital stock, at the time of incorporation the Singaporeans were the only ones who had fully paid their subscriptions. This means that upon incorporation, the foreigners had more shares than the Filipinos, defeating the 60-40 requirement of the Constitution.
Zobel gave this example: The subscribers of Shannalyne Inc. were: Ailene S. Cristobal, 599,600 shares; Luz Gomez Naguit, 99,800 shares; Jean Tan, 200 shares; Cheow Teck Tan, 200 shares; and Mary Jane Tallada Ibay, 200 shares. But in the portion of the Articles of Incorporation listing the paid-up capital, only the following were listed as having paid: Jean Tan, P399,800; and Cheow Teck Tan, P200. This would have made 100 percent of shares paid up totally owned by foreigners, at least as far as the Articles of Incorporation were concerned
“And don’t you wonder why Jean Tan, who subscribed to only 200 shares, paid that big an amount?” Zobel asked. “Come to think of it, the fact that Articles such as that of Shannalyne passed the SEC also tells us how sloppy the work at the SEC is.”
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OBJECTING OFFICIAL SACKED: Despite the objections, the IFMAs were signed, sealed and delivered by Secretary Alvarez, while the Forest Management Bureau head was sacked!
Zobel continued: “What worries me also is the information that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was made to sign Presidential Proclamation 17, which sets aside about 260 hectares as the Shannalyne Technological and Environmental Park. Furthermore, I am told that the total area awarded to the five companies under their IFMAs ranges from 110,000 to 170, 000 hectares, all in the CARAGA Region which former President Fidel V. Ramos had created.”
“Given the fact that there seems to be basis to question the background of Shannalyne (as well as her other sister companies) should not Malacañang and our environmentalists such as Senate Majority Leader Loren Legarda-Leviste look into this case?”
“Too much of our attention is concentrated on the highly controversial cases that hog the headlines and are fodder for dinner table talk. But the continuing rape of our environment, which oftentimes happens far from our peering eyes, is never an issue which catches our attention — until a disaster like the Baguio earthquake or Ormoc flood happens.
“As I said in an earlier piece, good government is never achieved simply by massing at EDSA once every so often to demand the ouster of crooked presidents. We get rid of the rot at the top, and do not forget that at all levels of the political pyramid you have crooks eating away at the foundations!”
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PEOPLE’S SUMMIT ON CLARK: Balibago in Angeles, meanwhile, was the converging point last Thursday of officials, businessmen, aviation experts and residents of Central Luzon assailing the government’s having agreed to stunt the development of Clark Field as the country’s premiere international airport in violation of Rep. Act 7227, the Bases Conversion Development Law, that created the Clark special economic zone.
The consensus in the People’s Summit was that the residents of communities around Clark were betrayed by the national government when it signed a contract with the Philippine International Air Terminals Corp. for the latter to build and operate Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay and Parañaque and for the government to suppress the development of such competitors as Clark (now renamed Disodado Macapagal International Airport).
President Arroyo is advised to heed the sentiments expressed in the People Summit. We’ll report on this next time.
(PS: In the same conference were alumni of Holy Angel University who, upon spotting us, asked Postscript to announce the reunion on Nov. 3, this Saturday, for the 45th year of D’Pillar’s Class ’56. Raquel Pangilinan Frye, class treasurer, said registration starts at 9 a.m. at Mayor Carmelo Lazatin’s residence at Telabastagan, San Fernando, Pampanga.)