, 2013
(PHILSTAR) By Christina Mendez - Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. yesterday challenged Budget Secretary Florencio Abad (photo) to explain the disbursement of the administration’s multibillion-peso Development Acceleration Program (DAP), now the subject of a post-audit report of the Commission on Audit (COA).

Marcos made the challenge after Abad accused him of lying over documents purportedly coming from his office in relation to the additional P100-million funds which he sought.

Abad said Marcos even requested for a switch in implementing agency.

“As I said before, the first time I heard about this P100-million allotment was when COA wrote me on Sept. 4 and asked me to confirm my signature on a document which allegedly came from my office. In an effort to aid COA with its investigation, we immediately sent them proof that the documents were falsified. Since the initial batch relating to this P100 million were falsified, it would be prudent to treat everything with utmost caution,” Marcos said in a statement.

“There are so many questions that need to be answered, so many irregularities that need to be addressed. So instead of laying blame on a select few and instead of continuing this trial by publicity, DBM (Department of Budget and Management)’s time would be better spent by assisting the COA in their investigation,” Marcos said.

Sources said the DAP funds were part of the savings which the Aquino administration had due to underspending of the budget shortly after President Aquino assumed office in 2010.

The executive department created DAP after the World Bank reportedly rebuffed the administration for its underspending in 2010 until 2011 which caused a slowdown in the economy.

As such, the DBM secretary had full discretion in the disbursement of the amount, which reached over P4 billion.

Marcos reacted adversely to Abad’s claims that he sought the release of P100-million allocation allegedly as part of a P475-million facility that the DBM extended to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to bankroll the livelihood projects of local government units (LGUs) in December 2011.

Marcos denied requesting for the amount which was supposedly part of a lump sum appropriation for six senators.

“I would not have even known that such a release existed were it not for COA’s letter to me last Sept. 4 informing me of such fact. How could I have requested for the release of these funds when I didn’t even know it existed?” Marcos said.

He said it is Abad who should explain the releases of the DAP particularly those which cover the “special” Special Allotment Release Orders (SAROs) given to six senators at the height of the impeachment trial of former chief justice Renato Corona last year.

“What I find puzzling though is why the DAR said that the DBM issued six ‘special’ SAROs for six senators. What makes the six senators ‘special’? Why not all 23 senator-judges? I would like to believe that during the impeachment trial, all the senator-judges were swayed by the facts and not by supposed incentives or rewards,” he said.

Marcos, who voted against Corona’s impeachment, said he is also puzzled over Abad’s contention that the controversial P100 million did not come from the DAP but the senator’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), also known as pork barrel.

Villar Group boosts retail business By Neil Jerome C. Morales (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 23, 2013 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


MANILA, Philippines - Newly-incorporated MBV Retail Holdings Corp. of the Villar family is setting its sights on the growing consumer sector in the country.

The retail holding firm is putting up convenience stores, one-stop home shops and department stores that will comprise the “All Group,” its top executive said.

“We want to go big into retailing as well,” said MBV Retail chairman and former Senate President Manuel B. Villar Jr.

“We’re beefing up our retail capability. We assigned topnotch senior officers to the company and we will be putting more capital as we move along,” Villar said.

MBV Retail has charted its expansion program for its home improvement store All Home, convenience store chain All Day and department store business that will be rebranded to fit into the All Group.

“In the case of All Home, it’s a perfect fit for Vista Land & Lifescapes Inc. For the convenience store, we have many communities and these communities need these kinds of stores,” Villar said.

The company will also expand its department stores given the expansion of its affiliate Starmalls Inc., Villar said.

Vista Land is the country’s largest and most geographically diverse builder of house and lots. It has so far built 250,000 homes in 33 provinces, 65 cities and municipalities nationwide.

The home improvement and appliance store business expansion, through a P1.5-billion capital spending, will provide logistical support for Vista Land’s housing projects while catering to the needs of homebuyers.

“We’re starting with five smaller All Home this year: one in Antipolo, Muntinlupa, Metropolis Alabang, San Fernando in Pampanga and San Jose in Bulacan,” Villar said, adding that another four bigger format All Home outlets will be put up next year.

The small All Home branch is composed of 3,000 square meters (sqm.) while the bigger formats will require 10,000 sqm. Investment is around P60 million for small All Home stores and P300 million for the larger branches, Villar said.

For the convenience store business, the Villar family will rebrand Finds into All Day and will put more branches in new areas.

“Now we have 80 stores and we will end the year with 100. Hopefully next year we want to double that number,” Villar said.

Villar said All Day will cater to the Filipino preference as it aims to become a major player in a sector dominated by foreign chains like 7-Eleven and Ministop.

The department store unit, for its part, will expand alongside the construction of new Starmalls nationwide, Villar said.

So far, MBV Retail’s expansion is backed by a P1-billion capitalization from the Villar family.

Villar said the family is ready to pour in more capital in tranches of P250 million to support MBV Retail.

Moving forward, MBV Retail is open to adding more formats to its portfolio like drugstores, Villar said.

MBV Retail can also become a public company in the next five years depending on its expansion, Villar said.

On Saturday, the retail holding firm opened its fourth All Home branch located at the Paseo de Andalusia, a village center within the eight-hectare Camella Andalusia in San Fernando, Pampanga.

“(The commercial centers’) presence is not only a crucial in any master-planned community, but also stands as testimony to a developer’s professional track record,” Vista Land said.

Vista Land chairman Villar said the property firm will start late this year the P1-billion, phase two development of Andalusia’s commercial segment that will allow the company to introduce more retail and shopping options.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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