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Revelation of the Repentant

(Article published in the Apr 28, 2010 issue of Manila Standard Today)   

In keeping with the spirit of the season inaugurated last Ash Wednesday, my piece of Feb 17 talked of repentance; not by all but by one who belonged to a calling that professed but not always practiced the following of one’s conscience.  I tried to show that, contrary to popular belief, some lawyers are, when they participate in wrongful deeds, indeed bothered by their conscience; thus the term “repentant lawyer” was not, in all cases, an oxymoron. 

My reference material was a photocopy of a complaint affidavit filed by a employee-lawyer with the Department of Labor and Employment in support of his demand for separation pay, retirement benefits, other money claims, moral and exemplary damages, plus attorney’s fees, from his employer.

Respecting, however, the privacy of the opposing parties in the labor case, no mention was made of their names and, even at the expense of my characters being too general to command any credence, omitted were tell-tale details that could have led to the identification of the complainant and the respondents.

Last week, however, the parties themselves came out in the open.  The complainant, Restituto S. Mendoza, went on national television; presidential aspirant Manny Villar, who was one of the respondents, told media that not he, but  the corporation involved, Adelfa Properties, Inc. (“Adelfa”), that should respond to Mendoza’s accusations; Ma. Nalen Rosero-Galang, chief legal officer of the Villar’s companies and also one of the respondents, called the exposé of Mendoza as “pure fiction.”  With the principal dramatis personae now publicly known, it is time to disclose the other relevant details.
 










     

Mendoza, in the beginning of his work for Villar, was thoroughly impressed with himself for the legal victories he had been garnering for the Villar companies; he was able to cause the reversal of many court and administrative decisions prejudicial to Villar. Later, however, he was to “discover that it was not through his sheer competence alone that all his cases were won.”

His first “victory,” the Potenciano case, involved his being able to get the Office of the President, on second motion for reconsideration, to reverse itself and grant Adelfa an extension of the period within which   to develop the 100-hectare land bounded by the Daang Hari Road project of Villar and developed by Brittany Corporation into a residential subdivision known as Portofino. His success, however, was due, he was subsequently informed by those in the know, “through a connection within the Office of the President.” (Underline not supplied.)

That, by itself, was sufficient to disturb Mendoza’s conscience; but he had more “successes” coming his way.  And, according to him, “in all the cases he had handled, … [he] has never felt guiltier than in the case of  “Armando Adiano vs. Catalino Vda De Villanueva” that involved “Lot No. 5765-B, Fls-732-O of the Inus Estate  pending before the Land Management Bureau (“LMB”) of DENR, Manila.”

In that case, Adelfa bought about 18 hectares from the mother title belonging to Villanueva. Adelfa then conveyed the land to Ayala Land by way of dacion en pago for a debt amounting to P300 million.  The problem was that the mother title was all the while, subject of a protest brought by Adiano.

The LMB, after investigation, found for Adiano and recommended to the Solicitor General the institution of proceedings for the cancellation of the title of Villanueva and those emanating from it.  Learning of the possible cancellation of its title, Ayala Land told Adelfa to resolve the issue; otherwise, Ayala Land would rescind the transaction and thus revive Adelfa’s  P300 million debt. 

To resolve the difficult bind, Adelfa, according to Mendoza, falsified documents needed to support Villanueva’s title.  Worse, Mendoza further maintains, “the existing documents initially found in the name of Adiano were pulled off from the records to make it appear that only the falsified Villanueva records were existing.”

Mendoza claimed to have been later informed by officials of Adelfa “that the company spent only around P7,000,000.00 in bribe money and settlement with the Heirs of Adiano and their lawyer in order to salve what could have been a P300,000,000-peso reinstated debt of Senator Villar’s companies to Ayala banks.”

Finally, it was he, admitted Mendoza, who drafted the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and other related documents relating to the division, between Adelfa and Masaito Development Corporation of the proceeds of the compensation paid by the government for the C5 Road Extension Project.  Categorically Mendoza states, “Evidently, Senator Villar was not telling the truth when he had been consistently denying in public that he and his companies never received a single centavo from the C5 Road Extension Project.”

These revelations spawned suits and countersuits from the protagonists, i.e. Senator Villar, Adelfa Properties, Inc., its legal head Ma. Nalen Rosero-Galang, on the one hand, and Restituto S. Mendoza, on the other, not to mention, and disbarment cases of the lawyers on both sides.  When the election dust clears and the debris is cleared, we trust that, with the circus over, truth will out and justice be done, in the manner heaven knows best, for Mendoza and Villar, with the country as the greatest beneficiary.
 

     

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