CHINESE-Filipino businessman Antonio Tiu said Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th had pressured him to pin down Vice President Jejomar Binay and threatened to use various government agencies to go after him and his businesses if he refused.
Tiu added that he and Trillanes had been friends for a long time.
“Simple lang ang mensahe eh, katulad ng natanggap ko na text ng mensahe is kailangan ko idiin si Bise Presidente kapalit ng aking kaligtasan at kaligtasan ng aking mga kompanya. Pag hindi ko ginawa, yun na yung mga text, hindi ako palalagpasin ng mga government agencies tulad ng BIR at ibang mga ahensya pa [Simple was the message, like the text message telling me to pin down the Vice President in exchange for my safety and that of my business firms. If I said no, according to the text messages, I won’t get past government agencies such as the Bureau of Internal Revenue],” Tiu told radio station dzMM in an interview on Wednesday.
He said Trillanes asked him to testify against Binay through emissaries and common friends.
“Ang mga emisaryo puro nangagaling kay Senador Trillanes. Kaibigan po naman talaga natin ‘yan, ilan taon na po tayong nagsasama. Bago po pinaputok yung issue hanggang kagabi (Monday) walang tigil po ang ilang mga common friends namin. Mayroon po kaming ilang common friends na nagsisilbing emisaryo na nagpapadala ng mensahe [All the emissaries were sent by Trillanes. He is really my friend. These emissaries have been relentless in telling me to testify against Binay],” according to Tiu, who has been tagged as the alleged dummy of the Vice President.
Tiu denied an accusation of former Makati City Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado that a vast estate in Rosario, Batangas, is owned by Binay.
“Paulit-ulit ko pong sinasabi na ako po ay hindi dummy. Bakit naman ako magpapagamit sa pulitiko eh P5 billion nga yung total assets, total net worth ng mga companies natin. Tapos magpapagamit tayo as dummy? Anong logic naman dito sa statement na ito [I have repeatedly said I am not a dummy. Why will I let a politician use me when total assets, total net worth of my companies already total P5 billion? Then I will still allow myself to be used as a dummy? What is the logic in that statement]?” he asked.
“Noong eleksyon. personal akong nag-abot ng campaign contribution sa kanya, P150,000, hindi ko lang alam kung dinis-close nya [In the elections, I personally gave Senator Trillanes P150,000 as my campaign contribution. I don’t know if he disclosed it],” Tiu said, apparently referring to the 2010 elections.
A video showing Trillanes praising “his good friend Tony Tiu” is now being circulated on the Internet.
“As you know [this]Tony Tiu is a visionary in the agricultural sector [and former senator Kiko knows him],” the senator said in the video, referring to Francis Pangilinan, now Presidential Assistant for Food Security.
In previous media interviews, Trillanes said he and other government officials attended the inauguration of an agri-tourism park not knowing that the gathering and the property were somehow linked to Binay.
When he appeared at the Senate on Wednesday, Tiu maintained that he is the owner of the huge estate in Batangas province and that he is not a dummy of Binay.
The businessman told members of the Senate blue ribbon sub-committee that he acquired the rights to use the land from its owner, Gregorio Laureano, for P400 million in 2013.
He said his company, Sunchamp Real Estate Development Corp., bought the usufruct rights over the land. Tiu added that he initially paid Laureano P11 million and that his firm will be paying Laureano P446 million on installment basis.
When asked by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel 3rd if he can present a transfer certificate of title (TCT) that could prove his ownership, the businessman explained that the title will be transferred to his name only after he has paid the property in full.
Trillanes, Pimentel and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano took turns in grilling Tiu to make him admit his connection with Binay.
But the businessman maintained that the Batangas property is owned by his company, Sunchamp, which has been renamed Greenergy Holdings Inc.
After testifying at the Senate, Tiu filed a defamation suit against Trillanes at the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office and sought P5 million in damages.
His lawyer, Czarina Quintanilla, said because of the senator’s allegations that Tiu is Binay’s dummy, the businesses of Tiu had been affected, particularly those that are publicly listed.
“This case is one for damages suffered by Antonio L. Tiu due to various defamatory statements made against him in the media by Trillanes.
Senator Trillanes accused Tiu of being a dummy of Vice President Jejomar Binay. However, this is not true. Tiu is not a dummy. He is a legitimate businessman whose businesses are primarily in the agricultural sector and he enjoys a good reputation,” the lawyer said.
Also on Wednesday, Binay dared Trillanes to a one-on-one debate “any time, any place.”
The Vice President made the challenge during an open forum with members of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas after the signing of a memorandum of understanding of the Home Development Mutual (Pag-IBIG) Fund with KBP.
“I’m willing to debate with Trillanes,” Binay said.
He reiterated that he will not attend the Senate probe of the supposed overpricing of the Makati City Hall Building 2.
Binay said the senators conducting the hearing have prejudged the proceedings.