I met a retired army colonel recently and learned about his story— his life in the military, his family and his dreams for them.
Col. Torres (not his real name), learned humility and obedience in his years of combat in Mindanao. As a young soldier, he knew only three words, “Sir, yes, Sir!” He obeyed his superior without questions. In not much time, he got promoted. He lived like other soldiers, he was always in danger fighting rebels and other lawless elements with his dilapidated and worn combat shoes.
Col. Torres married Karla three decades ago. “Life was difficult,” he said. “I was battling with separation anxiety most of the time. It was so difficult being away from my wife and our two children who were living in the province. Aside from that, I was worried that my income would not suffice to send my children to school. Good thing my wife learned good budgeting at a very young age.”
In an operation in Sumisip, Basilan eight years ago, Col. Torres was hit by grenade shrapnel. And though he was hospitalized for free, he had to accept odd jobs while on leave to earn extra. He was tempted to apply for a loan with AMWSLAI but was determined not to because he wanted to save for his retirement.
Retirement came. Col. Torres received almost P2 million in lump sum. He invested his money on a DMCI project at Bonifacio Heights in Taguig. He was able to pay in full. But here is the problem: He cannot get the title to his newly-purchased property because it was used by DMCI to secure a loan from Pag-ibig.
For a man who spent 30 years of hard work to purchase a small property, holding its title is a big accomplishment. You can just imagine how frustrating it has been for Col. Torres.
Meanwhile, in a 200-sqm air-conditioned room in Makati, is a septuagenarian civil engineer who lords over thousands of workers — David Consunji, the sixth richest man in the Philippines with a net worth of $3.9 billion.
In his memoir entitled “The Passion to Build,” Consunji bragged about how he made it to the top.
David Consunji was President Marcos’ man. He served as the Secretary of Public Works, Transportation and Communication from 1970-1975. It was during his time that the PICC, CCP and other infrastructure were built.
In 1995, he strengthened his 1954-founded DMCI with landmark infrastructures like Solaire Resort and Casino, SM Mega Mall, Mactan Shangrila Hotel, Shangrila Resorts and Spa, Manila Hotel, Westin Philippine Plaza (now Hotel Sofitel), Ayala Tower One, The New Istana Palace in Brunei Darusalam, Asian Hospital and the Manila Doctors Hospital.
He also started to venture into mining, power and water.
Col.Torres went to the Senate and reported his bad experience. Unfortunately, no senator entertained him. No law firm would also dare get his case for fear of the Consunji. As what retired soldier calls it, suntok sa buwan na kasuhan ang Consunji.
Port on the mountain
In Barangay Bolitoc, Sta. Cruz, Zambales is a port constructed by DMCI. The construction is with the authority of the Philippine Ports Authority, having been issued a permit to operate.
However, the permit is questionable. As pointed out by former Agham partylist Rep. Angelo Palmones, there is no foreshore area directly abutting their lot with TCT-4273, the location of the DMCI port project. It appears that what directly abuts is the land that was cut through by DMCI and DMCI Holdings, Inc. which is obviously a land formation which DMCI claims to be an underwater lot.
But what is very irregular was the move of the DENR to side with DMCI that the land in question is indeed underwater while in fact it is a mountain that DMCI cut through to have an abutment for foreshore.
Many DENR engineers issued statements against DMCI but only few were able to sustain it allegedly due to harassment from the latter. In fact, a provincial official of DENR was said to have resigned because of this irregularity.
I didn’t know DMCI is like the gods and goddesses of Mt. Olympus— it can move mountains and made them appear underwater. And yes, it’s business.
Obviously, DMCI, now famous for Torre de Manila, makes billions of pesos at the expense of a lot of people. Ilan kayang tulad ni Col. Torres ang nakukunsumi (nakuconsunji) ngayon dahil sa Torre De Manila?
David Consunji, per Forbes magazine, is the 6th richest man in the Philippines and the world’s 405th billionaire. Wow. But here is a simple question: Why is he not among the Philippines’ top tax payers? He must have genius lawyers and accountants, shielding Consunji through holdings and foundations to avoid taxes. Only in the Philippines!
Anyway, I hope Mr. David Consunji would also grow heart for people like Col. Torres. His money, after all, came from people like him.
More exposes to come.
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