Ex-Makati vice mayor’s building firm a ‘dummy’

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Documents obtained by the Makati city government from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have confirmed that former Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado is listed as one of the incorporators of Twin Leaf Group Inc., the contractor that clinched around P2-billion worth of infrastructure projects of the city government while he was still vice mayor.

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The city government, according to a statement, began probing the ownership of the firm in 2011 after it abandoned construction works and did not complete its projects with the city, including site development of Makati’s resettlement project in Calauan, Laguna.

The “[f]irm’s negligence [was the]cause of delay in electrification [and]water supply in the Calauan resettlement project,” the statement said on Monday.

Aside from the first phase of Makati Homeville in Calauan with total contract price of P505 million, Twin Leaf also cornered the site development contract for the resettlement site in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, amounting to P322 million in 2008 to 2009.

According to its GIS (general info sheet) filed with SEC, Twin Leaf Group Inc. started operations in March 2005, engaging in general construction, such as building of houses, condominiums, roads, land bridges, airfields, piers and railroads, among others.

In 2013, Mercado and two other relatives, his children Jerome Mercado and Karla Marijane Mercado, were suddenly listed as incorporators of the company, along with Cesario Reyes, president of Twin Leaf since 2009, and one Myraflor Gonzalez.

They replaced three others who were dropped from the list, namely, Francisco Almeida, Felicisimo Austria and Ariel Olivar.

Olivar is the cousin of Mercado and listed as the owner of the unit in Peak Tower Condominium where Raquel Ambrosio, live-in partner of Mercado, allegedly committed suicide in 2002.

The SEC documents also show Mercado as general manager of Twin Leaf, daughter Karla as vice president, son Jerome as corporate secretary, and Gonzalez as treasurer.

Mercado, according to the statement, has been making conflicting statements about his involvement in the firm during Senate hearings and interviews with the media.

“He denied any connection with Twin Leaf at a recent hearing, yet in an earlier hearing held August 26, 2014, he clearly stated that he was managing a construction company named Twin Leaf Group Inc. when asked by Sen. [Vicente Sotto 3rd] about his current business activities,” it said.

In the October 19, 2014 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Mercado again admitted ownership of Twin Leaf.

In an article in the newspaper, the former vice mayor named Twin Leaf as the contractor for the construction of a hotel for the Boy Scouts of the Philippines in 2009.

At the time, Mercado did not make public his ownership of the company.

Twin Leaf undertook the first phase of the site development of Makati Homeville in 2008 to 2009, “but it neglected its duty to ensure power and water supply in the area as it failed to comply with basic requirements, such as obtaining building permits from the municipal government of Calauan.”

Meralco and the Laguna Water District both have stringent requirements, including valid building permits, for them to proceed with installations in an area.

According to the city engineering department, it was only in 2014 that the requirements were finally satisfied as it fast-tracked the process upon a directive from Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr.

To date, the first phase of electrification has been completed, with 76 concrete Meralco posts with wiring installations and 17 transformers in place.

Primary structures including the health center and multi-purpose hall, two two-story school buildings and a covered basketball court have been energized after building and occupancy permits were granted by the municipal government.

Also underway is the electrification of the first 395 housing units built that had been issued the permits.

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