Did Binay 'fronts' keep 2010 campaign funds?

MANILA, Philippines – Something does not add up in Vice President Jejomar Binay’s campaign finances and expenses in the 2010 national polls.

Was it possible he under-reported the contributions he got when he contested the vice presidency in 2010? Was excess money diverted to the separate and joint accounts of trusted aide, Gerardo Limlingan and Eduviges Baloloy?

That appears to be the case, as seen from a cross-check of Binay’s Statement of Election Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE) with the Anti-Money Laundering Council’s freeze order petition to the Court of Appeals (CA). The CA document showed the movement of funds in the Vice President’s bank accounts.

Binay’s personal bank accounts appear to have served as clearing house for his campaign expenses.

Based on the AMLC petition sent to the CA, Binay’s personal accounts in two banks – BDO Unibank Inc (BDO) and Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company (Metrobank) – were most active during the 2010 campaign period.

Money moved in and out of these personal bank accounts, with huge withdrawals faithfully reflected in his SOCE as payments for his campaign expenses, in particular political ads, which constituted the bulk of his expenses.

But a larger part of the money remained untouched, conveniently parked in separate and joint accounts of Limlingan and Baloloy.

During the campaign period, Limlingan and Baloloy’s bank accounts enjoyed a massive infusion of deposits, the sources of which were described as questionable by the AMLC. 

Limlingan acted as Binay’s treasurer during the 2010 presidential race; Binay ran for the vice presidency.

Baloloy, on the other hand, is a long-time and trusted aide of the Vice President. Those who know her say she knows more about Binay’s finances than his wife, former mayor herself, Elenita Binay. (READ: Ebeng Baloloy, Binay’s girl Friday)

Limlingan and Baloloy have been tagged by former vice mayor Ernesto Mercado as Binay’s dummies for his hidden wealth and assets. The two have remained in hiding since the Senate began probing into the Binays’ alleged ill-gotten wealth. (READ: Binay’s ‘dear friend’ got P1.3B contracts in 4 years)

Very liquid candidate

In a way, the AMLC petition to the CA gives us a peek into the status of Binay’s finances, as well as spending pattern as the campaign heated up in the 2010 national polls.

It also shows a very liquid candidate able to pay his creditors at a moment’s notice. 

From February 8, 2010 to May 7, 2010, 35 large transactions were monitored in his BDO and Metrobank accounts.

For example, on February 8, 2010 alone, his BDO account, through 4 separate credit memos, was infused with P24 million. The next day, a total amount of P23,138.359.17 was debited from this BDO account. A check with his SOCE showed that on the same date, he got his bill for P23,138.359.17 for his radio ads.

Other transactions showed the following:

The last two huge transactions that the AMLC observed in Binay’s accounts during the campaign period were a P10-million withdrawal and a P2.5-million encashment on May 7, 2010. The next large activity monitored in his BDO and Metropolitan bank accounts would occur on March 11, 2011.

Excess donations

For the 2010 race, Binay reported a total of P231.48 million in donations and contributions received during the entire election period. Of this amount, he incurred expenses of P217,938,289 leaving a surplus of P13,541,711.

The Vice President’s camp used the excess funds as justification for Binay’s net worth having a sharp increase from 2009 to 2010. From P44.798 million in 2009, his net worth leaped to P58.096 million in 2010 (an increase of about P13.3 million). His cash on hand and in banks also increased from only P806,552 in 2009 to P17.517 million (READ: Binay wealth: Highest jump when he became 2010 VP)

Binay’s latest 2014 net worth declaration showed he has P38.843 million cash on hand and in banks, with a net worth of P60.25 million. But for the AMLC, this is just a piece of the puzzle that is the Binay wealth. His alleged two dummies, Limlingan and Baloloy, hold the rest of the puzzle pieces.

Big deposits during the campaign

In the AMLC petition for a freeze order sent to the CA, Limlingan had the highest number of accounts monitored, with 124 in different banks. Baloloy, who serves as Binay’s personal secretary, had 55 accounts, while Binay had 19.

The CA document showed that from December 2007 to August 2013, both Limlingan and Baloloy had huge cash deposit transactions, either individually or jointly. Overall, in that period, 122 questionable deposits were monitored by the AMLC.

Just like Binay’s accounts, for this story, we focused only on the bank transactions leading up to the May 10, 2010 elections.

Out of these questionable deposits, Rappler counted 21 transactions from December 2009 to June 2010, which more or less covers the 2010 campaign period. The Omnibus Election Code specifies that the campaign period runs for 90 days before Election Day itself for the presidential and vice-presidential race. For the May 2010 elections, candidacies were declared in October 2009.

In those 21 transactions, a whopping P401.182 million in deposits were made either to the individual accounts of Baloloy and Limlingan or to their joint accounts. No withdrawals were recorded. 

The biggest deposit was made, P100 million, on December 22, 2009, to their joint account in BDO. This was followed by a P50 million deposit on January 18, 2010 and another P62.325 million deposit made on March 3, 2010.

On May 12, or two days after the polls, Baloloy deposited in her BDO account P35 million. In June, she deposited P30 million and P44 million in the same BDO account. Post-election, the deposits to that one account totalled 109 million.

Apart from millions of pesos in deposits, Limlingan and Baloloy were also monitored to have placed funds in investment management accounts that also ran into millions of pesos.

Notably, the two placed P120 million in an investment fund in one day alone, on January 1, 2010. Another P60 million was placed in the same investment fund on January 30. 

In the book Ambition, Destiny Victory: Stories from a Presidential Election, authors Chay F. Hofileña and Miriam Grace A. Go wrote that Limlingan “was designated chair and finance chief” of Binay’s core group. “He is said to have a very practical management style, one that is needed to make a small team running a big campaign flexible,” the authors wrote.

Binay's camp has slammed the AMLC report, claiming that the scrutiny of his bank accounts and people identified with the Vice President is part of a "conspiracy" to discredit the Vice President. He is a leading contender for the 2016 presidential elections.

“This is all about the 2016 presidential election. This is all about unleashing the agencies of government to harass and malign the Vice President," Binay's spokesman Joey Salgado had said.

Binay's spokesperson for political affairs Rico Quicho has a similar take. “[This] is another blatant attempt to engage the Vice President in trial by publicity and to deprive him of his right to due process provided by the Constitution," Quicho said.

The Vice President himself has insisted that deposits in his bank accounts are all above-board. with a report from Reynaldo Santos Jr/Rappler.com