MANILA, Philippines - A company partly owned by former First Son and current party-list Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo recently sold for $1.125 million the controversial house in upscale Foster City, California that used to belong to him and his wife Angela, and transferred the deed of ownership just last month, according to real estate websites and the San Mateo County Assessor-Recorder’s Office.
The five-bedroom beachfront house at 1655 Beach Park Blvd. was sold by Beachway LLC, a company Arroyo admitted to being part owner, with the transaction reported to the San Mateo County Assessor’s office on March 16.
The property was transferred to Mary Grace Apolinario and Jerome Ngo who appear in the county’s database as “grantees” or buyers. The buyers are owners of the popular restaurant chain “Gerry’s Grill” who, sources said, are good friends of Mikey.
The San Mateo County Recorder’s Office also shows a transfer tax of $1,237.50 was paid, in the document listed as No. 2011-031097.
The real estate website Zillow reported the sale of the Foster City property at $1.125 million, but its own estimate showed the house was worth $1,003,500.
As of April 1, 2011, however, Beachway LLC’s address is still listed as “1655 Beach Park Blvd., Foster City” in the California Business Records database.
VERA Files sources in California also revealed that although Arroyo has claimed owning at most 40 percent of the company, and therefore was only part owner of the house, visitors to the Foster City property were left without a doubt as to its occupants’ identities.
These sources provided VERA Files a photo of the living room of the house at 1655 Beach Park Blvd. before it was sold. On a side table sat a picture of the young Arroyo couple, while on the wall above the couch hung a painting of former president Gloria Arroyo taking her oath of office on Jan. 20, 2001.
VERA Files texted Beachway LLC manager Antonio Mariano Almeda but received no replies. It also tried calling him, but his cell phone was out of reach.
The house forms part of the evidence listed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue, which is accusing Arroyo and his wife Angela of amassing millions of pesos worth of real estate and other property for the years 2004 to 2009, but failing to pay their taxes.
“Despite receipt of substantial amounts of income, as shown by their numerous properties… the Arroyo spouses repeatedly failed to file any Income Tax Return (ITR) and to pay the corresponding taxes due thereon,” the BIR said.
Mikey denied the allegations. In an interview with ABS-CBN News, he said, "I have been dutifully paying my taxes. Everything I own is in my SALN...If ever I haven’t been paying right taxes, I could easily pay penalty, which is under the Constitution. I have been paying right taxes."
The couple bought the property from a certain George Skyllas in 2006, and mortgaged it twice before finally redeeming it in April 2008.
The deed to the house was in Angela’s name, but the property did not appear in her husband’s Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN) for the years 2007 and 2008 when he was still representative of Pampanga’s second district.
Republic Act No. 6713, or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, requires government employees and officials to declare all property, including those in the names of their spouses. Penalties for violating the law range from a fine, suspension or removal from office, to imprisonment or disqualification from holding public office.
Shortly after VERA Files broke the story, Arroyo’s lawyers flew to San Francisco and quietly effected the transfer of ownership of their Foster City house from Angela’s name to that of Beachway LLC (Limited Liability Company).
A statement of information filed by Beachway with the California Secretary of State listed Almeda, Mikey’s former chief of staff, as a “managing member.”
The document did not mention the names of other members or managers. In an interview last year, Almeda declined to name them, saying only, “I’m representing the investors.”
The transfer from Angela to Beachway LLC was recorded in the Assessor’s office on Sept. 18, 2009, less than three weeks after the story came out.
Arroyo denied owning the house in an interview with Winnie Monsod and Arnold Clavio, hosts of the television program Unang Hirit, the day after the story broke on Aug. 31, 2009.
“Stop saying it is my house. It’s a house owned by the Beach Way Company,” Mikey told Monsod and Clavio. “I'm not the sole owner of that. I have friends who co-own it who are part of the corporation.”
He also said it was his “immediate family” that owned somewhere in the range of 20 to 40 percent of the company, but refused to divulge who the other shareholders were.
Arroyo also admitted the Foster City home wasn’t the only property they bought in California. In his 2005 SALN, he listed a house he bought on instalment basis for P49.5 million. Another property, presumably the Foster City property, appears in his 2006 SALN, this time with an acquisition cost of P63.7 million.
“This is a different house already. We sold the house after about five or six months (and we bought another house worth P63 million). Nabenta rin ito (This was also sold). It's not the Foster City residence,” he said in the same interview.
VERA Files found that the Arroyos bought in September 2005 a 160-square meter three-bedroom, three-bathroom condominium unit at 805 Mendocino Way or the Manors Condominiums in Redwood City, also in San Mateo County, for $900,000 and later sold this in December 2006 for $880,000.
In the TV interview, Arroyo did acknowledge that his net worth leapt from P5 million in 2002 when he was vice-governor of Pampanga, to P76 million by the time he was elected to Congress.
He attributed the increase to the gifts he and his wife received when they got married in 2002. It was also the campaign season, he said, and that he had good investments at the time.
“Siyempre unang una, kinasal tayo. Medyo nagkaroon tayo ng maraming regalo. Tapos pag kampanya, siyempre kahit paano maraming tumutulong sa atin (Of course, first I got married. We received a lot of gifts. Then during campaigns, somehow we get contributions),” Mikey explained.
A follow-up story by VERA Files found that Arroyo failed to declare any campaign contributions when he ran for representative of Pampanga’s second district in 2004 and 2007. He used to occupy the congressional seat that his mother now holds.
Arroyo corrected himself after the follow-up story came out, saying he did not use campaign contributions.
Arroyo’s lawyer Ruy Rondain also explained the rise in Arroyo’s networth by saying that Angela was a wealthy woman when Mikey married her. He further said Arroyo had declared his wife’s assets in his supplemental SALN in 2002, the year they wed.
But another follow-up story by VERA Files showed that neither the Office of the Ombudsman nor the Pampanga provincial capitol has a copy the supplemental SALN, raising questions of whether he ever filed it—Ellen Tordesillas, Avigail Olarte, Yvonne Chua and Luz Rimban
(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)
Reposted From ABS-CBN News