The online news portal of TV5
(UPDATE 3 - 2:54 p.m.) MANILA, Philippines - An arrest warrant was served on the ailing former Senate president Jovito Salonga on Monday morning in connection with the sale and construction of a Tagaytay property that went awry.
Judge Danilo Buemio of the Pasig City Regional Trial Court-Branch 125 issued the warrant for Salonga's arrest that stemmed from estafa charges filed against him by a certain physician named Restituto Buenviaje.
Buenviaje filed the charges against Salonga and other respondents for the alleged sale of a condo unit in Tagaytay that remainained unfinished.
The warrant was served at the former Senate president's home on Acacia Street in Valle Verde Subdivision in Pasig City. But Salonga was too ill and did not go with authorities. Instead, his son, Esteban "Steve" Salonga, went with authorities and requested the clerk of court that the sheriff report to the judge the condition of the elder Salonga who could no longer stand up and think clearly.
Former senator Rene Saguisag, nephew of Salonga, was neither aware of the latter's arrest nor the sale of the Tagaytay property.
He told InterAksyon.com Monday afternoon that Salonga, a stalwart of the Liberal Party, who is turning 92 this June was very weak. "Parang gulay na yata s'ya for more than a year."
In a separate interview with InterAksyon.com the same day, Salonga's son and co-accused Steve, cleared the name of his father and dismissed the case as a "nuisance suit."
Steve said the dispute was not between the former Senate president and Buenviaje but between the physician and Jebson Holdings Corp., the developer of the 2,395 square-meter Tagaytay property.
Steve said that while his father owns the landholding in Tagaytay, the transaction was between Jebson and Buenviaje who reportedly advanced P2 million to the developer for the construction of the condominium.
However, Steve claimed that Jebson had failed to finish the construction of the condo unit and did not also report to Jovito that he had received money from Buenviaje. Jebson even borrowed P7 million from Jovito but failed to pay the former Senate president, according to Steve.
He said that in an earlier case, Jebson was held liable by the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board after he defaulted on his construction-related projects.
Steve said Buenviaje already lost in a civil case but "revived the same facts and made it appear that he was fooled by Jebson in collusion with my father."
Salonga's son surmised that because Buenviaje could not go after Jebson, he decided to revive the case to humiliate Jovito and force him to pay in behalf of the developer.
"Ang gusto niya siguro, i-blackmail na lang kami, na mapahiya para magbayad na lang kami [Maybe he wanted to blackmail and humiliate us so we would be forced to pay him]," said Steve.
Steve said his father could neither post bail nor stand trial because he is suffering from Alzheimer's disease and dementia. He said the case against the former Senate president should be dismissed.
"Di na s'ya makabangon, may mga nakakabit na tubo [He could no longer get up, there are tubes attached to his body]," Steve said of his father.
It was in 2008 when Salonga started suffering from Alzheimer's disease and dementia. His condition got worse after his wife died in April 2010, according to Steve.
"Nagpaalam na siya sa amin when Mom passed away...Malakas pa ang katawan n'ya noon pero later on ang isip n'ya nagpa-alam na [He bade goodbye to us when Mom passed away....He was still physically strong at the time but later on his mind no longer functioned.]