Are the Benitezes the real esteemed family that they claim themselves to be? Are they really the protectors of the revered legacy of Philippine Women’s University?
Documents leaked to us tell of a different story. The documents, which purportedly form part of an audit into the transactions of the school’s management over the last decade, details how former PWU Presidents and siblings Amelou Benitez Reyes and Jolly Benitez got involved in dubious activities and transactions that were paid for using funds of the PWU – worth more than P200 million.
What was glaring in the audit findings is this:
The first item, referred to as “Advances to officers & Employees – ABR,” are in fact the total amount of money released to finance the “special projects” of ABR or, as you probably would have guessed, President Amelou Benitez Reyes. Auditors question why so much amount was disbursed to Ms. Benitez-Reyes in a span of less than three years and these advances had nothing to do with the core services of the school. No one from PWU can provide a straightforward answer.
But everyone who belonged in the PWU community may have an idea where the P99.6 million went – gold digging. Literally. As you know, Ms. Amelou Benitez Reyes does not hide her so-called claim to fame that she was the lover of the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos. She also would always tell people that she has personal knowledge where Marcos hid the fabled Yamashita Gold in different parts of the Philippines, including Intramuros.
When Amelou Benitez Reyes assumed the presidency of PWU, she wasn’t really concerned about helping the school. What she was interested in was to use the school’s money to finance her treasure hunting activities. Apparently, if she indeed was Marcos’ lover, the late strongman did not love her that much because nothing came out of the digging projects she initiated. What was left was the P100 million missing in PWU’s coffers.
Her brother, Jolly Benitez, a known Marcos crony and former deputy prime minister of Imelda Marcos in the Ministry of Human Settlements, also engaged in highly irregular transactions, not in gold, but in his field of corruption expertise – real estate.
During his stint as PWU president, Jolly Benitez—who is the father of current PWU President Francisco Benitez—immediately activated his two real estate development companies: Mordev Inc. and GAIA Land.
He wasted no time. Jolly Benitez used his company Mordev (Mango Orchard Resource Development Inc.) to broker an agreement with Sta. Lucia Realty, which obliged PWU to pay P20 million to Sta. Lucia as part of the JV.
Worse, Jolly Benitez also used another of his company, GAIA Land, to have PWU purchase a 250-hectare property in Caliraya, Laguna. For this, PWU advanced P88.8 million. Problem was, the purchase did not materialize as the said property was declared forest land and is therefore deemed inalienable. The advance payment was never returned to PWU.
The P207 million dubious transactions were reportedly the main reasons why the Benitezes applied for a P223 million loan from BDO. That is probably the reason why no improvements in PWU resulted from this loan; it was really meant to cover the mess the siblings Amelou and Jolly got themselves into.
Luckily for the Benitezes, they were able to hide all these when they managed to get the STI group to buy the BDO loan from them. Not only that, they also got about P300 million more from STI for school renovations and upgrades.
Perhaps, the outspoken media bureau head of PWU Lyca Benitez Brown should stop claiming that the Benitezes are the victims in the ongoing issue with STI. What she should be asking her cousins is “where did all that money go?”
Gold diggers or thieves? You be the judge.
Here’s the complete annex of Ms. Amelou’s disbursements being questioned.