Second of Three Parts
What graft investigator Janice O. Baltazar failed to discover was that Two Chefs, the food firm that cornered contracts from Barangay Bel-Air in Makati City, had been doing business with barangay officials for years. In fact, before the questionable catering deal worth P116,900 was discovered and became the basis for charges against barangay officials, the food contracts given to Two Chefs, which was owned by the daughter-in-law of village chief Constancia “Nene” Lichauco, were more expensive, if not more blatantly illegal, since the money used to pay the contracts came from Lichauco’s own discretionary funds.
Records from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) show that the company was registered in October 1996 with a capital stock of only P10,000. The Lichaucos are listed as the original incorporators. Four of them —Francisco Jr., Ma. Theresa, German and Ma. Liza—have the same home address, 17 Aquarius St., Bel-Air.
The village chief lives in the same address.
Patricia Warren, Lichauco’s daughter-in-law, gave her address as Antipolo Street, Guadalupe Nuevo also in Makati.
Order slips bearing the logo of Two Chefs were all signed by Patricia using the surname Warren to conceal her links to her mother-in-law. The Manila Times was able to get copies of several order slips.
A certificate of creditable tax and another certificate of final tax for the period May 1 to 31, 2007 bore the name and signature of the barangay chairman as representative of payor and Two Chefs as payee.
On August 12, 2003, Lichauco requested P550,721.08 released as “payment for the discretionary (sic) of bgy. Captain for the month of April & May 2003” under Request for Obligation and Appropriations (ROA) No. 03-08-018 signed by Lichauco, Ignacio Macrohon, former chairman of the committee of canvass and Zoilo Lindo, former barangay treasurer.
The following day, a Disbursement Voucher (DV 2003-0819) was issued authorizing the “withdrawal from LBP account as payment for the discretionary of barangay Captain for the month of April and May 2003, as per attached supporting documents in the amount of—Referenced with RO No. 03-08-018.” The account was recorded as “payables, barangay obligations.”
Subsequently, a Land Bank check for P547 million and bearing account number 000052-1309-05 was issued to “CONSTANCIA Q. LICHAUCO.”
What is odd in this transaction is that under the “Summary of Expenses for the month of April & May 2003” that was approved by Lindo and “noted” by Lichauco herself, bulk of the discretionary fund that was released to the barangay chieftain would represent payment to Two Chefs Corp. in the amount of P404,560.
The document indicated that the payment covers food delivered for several meetings of the Pasinaya committee, dancers, choir and rehearsals between April 4 and May 25.
On December 28, 2006, Lichauco again requested the approval of ROA No. 00-61-376 representing payment of P280,000 to Two Chefs for “foods served on official activities.”
The Disbursement Voucher (DV No. 2006-1342) issued and dated on the same day, gave the following particulars: “Withdrawal from LBP account as payment for the food served during yearend barangay assembly, in the amount of—Referenced with ROA No. 00-61-376.”
As proof of payment, Two Chefs Corporation issued official receipt (OR) No. 886 dated January 5, 2007, or eight days from when the request for payment was made by Lichauco. The OR indicated that the payment was for “yearend bgy assembly.”
Another Two Chefs receipt, OR No. 909 dated June 5, 2007 also in possession of the Times, shows that the barangay paid P109,593.75 for “Bands for Fiesta.”
For purposes of comparison, a Disbursement Voucher dated “11/26/10” released during the time of former Barangay Captain Victor Gomez Jr. indicated that Bel-Air only paid P7,500 to La Classica Catering Services for “food served during barangay assembly on November 23, 2010.”
A Development Bank of the Philippines check (35457000) dated November 26, 2010 was issued to the caterer.
Illegal church donation
Interestingly, a Subsidiary Ledger under the account of “Donations” bearing Fund Code 878 also shows that Bel-Air debited P168,000 to Two Chefs.
The same ledger shows that the barangay donated P300,000 to St. Andrew the Apostle Parish as “financial assistance” on March 14, 2007.
Under the principle of the separation of the Church and the State, the government is not allowed to make such a huge donation.
Besides, under COA rules, a barangay “cannot appropriate public money or property for religious or private purposes.”
The following amounts were also donated to various entities:
- P1.3 million to Excelsion Trading for various items for donation to various non government organizations (Sept. 19, 2007);
- P400,000 to Bel-Air Village Association Bingo for a cause (October 17, 2007);
- P100,000 to Sonny Arevalo- financial assistance for poor families of St. Martin day Care Center (Nov. 21, 20070;
- P189,035 to Classera Enterprises- purchase of gifts for indigents (Dec. 28, 2007).
(To be continued)