AYALA MUSCLE

THIS business conglomerate is old money, mega bucks even before Chinese names dominated Philippine business. This corporate giant builds cities. This company promises to make our lives better.

This enterprise is at the top in the list of companies with high level of involvement on corporate social responsibility (CSR). Most think it does not involve itself in government shenanigans. It is generally perceived as clean and not involved in government corruption.

It is Ayala Group of Companies owned by the family Jaime Zobel de Ayala, no. 7 on the list of the country’s wealthiest, reported to have a networth of US $3.5 billion.

Is Ayala really clean? Is it an exemption to the adage: in every great wealth is an even greater crime?


LRT-MRT COMMON STATION CONTROVERSY

OpinYon thinks Ayala is not as clean as they want people to believe.

OpinYon has its reasons:

The LRT-MRT common station controversy: This is one example of government abandoning on its contract, an act of betrayal, unseen in civilized economies, where contracts are sacred.

Why the government turned around from its commitment written in contract? One flexed its muscles and the government bowed.

This one is most likely Ayala Group, the party to benefit from the government act of betrayal.

Is this unusual of Ayala? No! This is almost normal. Read what Thomas Mirasol said in mid of 2014 interview with Singapore Business Times:

In the Philippines, “we control and manage everything. We are the mayors and the governors of the communities that we develop and we do not relinquish this responsibility to the government.”

Mirasol is Ayala’s chief sales and marketing executive who said “the fact that there is nobody in the Philippines who regulates urban planning has been great for Ayala Land because we are probably the only company there that has the scale financially to take on large plots of land.”


BRAZEN

Mirasol cannot be more candid in defining Ayala’s thinking of how far its powers can go in influencing if not twisting Philippines economic directions.

This Mirasol brag gives us another perspective on the tussle between SM group and Ayala over the LRT-MRT common station.

How the common station ended up with Ayala is a surprise only on its brazenness. As it was coming, even if SM already paid P200 million, its part of the agreement, was expected. But on how daring the magic was done was for the books.

The magic could only be done by top officials at the Department of Transportation of Communications (DOTC) reported to be most likely in the payroll of the Ayalas.

The market is abuzz with talks that DOTC is like a part of Ayala group of companies, many top officials of the former are associated with the latter.

Just last week, Globe Telecom, another Ayala-owned firm, announced President-elect Duterte’s appointment of its former executive Rodolfo Salalima as the first secretary of the newly-formed Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

The mere fact that Globe Telecom itself – and not President-elect Duterte’s spokespersons – released the news raises suspicion. What’s this, Ayala’s excited, or it’s exercising its bragging rights?

Observers say that DOTC will always favor Ayala like the sun will rise the next day.” You can bet your last dime no one but no one can beat Ayala at the DOTC,” they said.


MORE REASONS

They cited the following:

The AF Consortium submitted a negative bid of P1,088,103,900 for the project edging the negative P1,088,000,000 bid of the SM group that prompted the DOTC to rule that AF's structure met the government requirements notwithstanding the argument of SM Group.


LRT 1 CONTROL

The consortium between Ayala Corp. and Metro Pacific Investments Corp. also already took over the operation and maintenance of Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT 1), which it described as a “severely deteriorated” elevated train system.

Ayala and Metro Pacific had offered the government a premium of P9.35 billion to win the project.

The 20.7-kilometer LRT 1, the first elevated commuter train in Metro Manila, stretches from the Muñoz station in Quezon City to the Baclaran station in Pasay City. Previously, the LRT 1 line was operated by the LRTA and the DOTC.

The takeover of LRT 1 came after the consortium also snagged the P65 billion contract to operate and expand LRT 1 all the way to Bacoor, Cavite province, over a period of 32 years.


BUSINESS PARTNERSHIP

It appears that the Aquino government has given Ayala all the tools that it needed to propel itself to greater heights in the local business skyline.

Among its line of businesses are telecommunications, banking, real estate development and water services while its partner, Manny V. Pangilinan’s Metro Pacific’s portfolio has water services, electricity retail, toll roads and hospitals.

Under Noynoy’s watch, the two had won the automated fare collection system PPP, a tap-and-go fare payment system for LRT 1, LRT 2 and MRT 3 now being implemented.

They are also bidding for the LRT 2 PPP and the P171-billion North-South Railway Project that would rehabilitate the 478-km line from Tutuban, Manila, to Legazpi City.

Ayala is expected to bag this P171B train project. Why not, as observers see the smoke of a big ‘miracle’ (read: crime) about to happen?


AYALA NOMINEES

The smoke comes in the name of people lined up to help incoming DOTC Secretary Arthur Tugade create the miracle:

Perpetuo Lotilla a former DOTC Undersecretary, whose claim to expertise on rails came from railroading contracts to favor Ayala and other big money, observers say.

Another Undersecretary being tapped is Noel Eli B. Kintanar. He is an assistant VP and Executive Director at Ayala Corp, since 2007.

Lulu Baclagon, reportedly another Ayala nominee, is a senior investment officer of IFC.

Rene Limcaoco is another Ayala nominee. He is brother of Jose Teodoro K. Limcaoco who is the Chief Finance Officer and Finance Group Head of Ayala Corp.

Another Ayala nominee is the former head of OGCC who issued favorable opinion allowing Manila Water Co., an Ayala company, to raise water rates while disallowing Maynilad Waters of MVP Group of companies, on similar petition.

Also on the list is Ping de Jesus, former DWPH secretary during the time of Ramos and Cory Aquino and reported to be in the secret think tank of Tugade. He served as DOTC Secretary under Pres. PNoy but left in the middle of controversy over a $10 billion DOTC ATN-CNS project.


MAGIC

That Ayala is dominating the Philippine business landscape together with its partner MVP Group of companies could be attributed to what many call as ‘magic’.

And the magic is being conjured by many top officials of the DOTC which is now being derisively described as actually a branch of the Ayala group of companies, owing to the fact that many top officials of the agency are former top executives of the conglomerate.

That Ayala takes special interest on DTOC, the answer is DOTC is home to most of the big ticket PPP projects where Billions of pesos of investments go to the wrong pockets.

If that is true, then Ayala really has no other way but to go up.

On top of the thievery, salt is rubbed into the wound given the massive hellish traffic that many of us die every day from pollution if not road rage.

That top DOTC officials get away with robbery and murder is the magic, evil magic that has descended on our streets, airports, and sea ports.


DELIBERATE DESIGN

But it could be worse than evil magic if all these traffic and congestion problems are products of deliberate plans and designs to create crises and from there make more billions of pesos.

These billions of pesos are now rushing to investors’ pockets and their paid minions in government, trying to solve crisis after crisis at our transportation and communications needs.

Under crisis the worst crimes happen without people complaining.

We have seen this on power crisis when former Pres. Fidel V. Ramos allowed emergency power suppliers or the so-called notorious independent power producers (IPPs) to rob consumers.

We also saw this on the justification to build the Skyway at the SLEX.

Evil men have their ways and the Ayalas are no angels.

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