PCIJ: Crusader for Truth or Witch Hunter
PCIJ vs. PCIJ*
*People's Conscience In Journalism
PCIJ: How Malou Mangahas made millions at the expense of Rigoberto Tiglao, Sheila Ocampo, Chit Estella and the rest of the brat pack.
The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism is not and will never be what it purports to be by its founder, Malou Mangahas.
In the first place, the PCIJ is the mouthpiece of the Ayala Group of Companies having been initially formed to pave entry to the Philippines of Singapore in the telecom business which, at that time, was a virtual monopoly of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., then under the stewardship of Antonio Cojuangco.
Press Undersecretary Danny Gozo brought Mangahas to Don Jaime Zobel to propose the idea of putting up PCIJ to be composed of active journalists from different newspapers. The objective was to demolish all Ayala competitors, particularly the Chinese sector which had taken over most of the businesses of the Spanish mestizos, particularly Casino Español and the Manila Polo Club.
At that time Singapore and Ayala Corporation were working for the establishment of Globe Telecom, a joint venture between Singapore Telecom and the Ayala-controlled Globe Mackay.
Mangahas was immediately given a Bank of the Philippine Islands check of P1 million to organize PCIJ and register it with the Securities and Exchange Commission as a non-profit foundation. The amount of P1 million was registered as a starting capital of PCIJ.
The first recruit of Mangahas was Rigoberto Tiglao who was then the Philippine correspondent of the Singapore-based Far Eastern Economic Review.
On the local front, Mangahas recruited Jose Galang, managing editor of Business World and later executive of Today. Galang is back with Business World occupying the same position although the whole staff is restless about his reappointment.
Also recruited were Sheila Ocampo and a host of other journalists from the print media.
Don Jaime Zobel contacted a friend who had a vacant house in the Ayala enclave of San Lorenzo Village, Makati so that the PCIJ could use it as an office.
The first foreign assignment was a full-length story that appeared in the Far Eastern Economic Review.
Mangahas asked for another P1 million from Don Jaime allegedly to bribe the Singapore based FEER editors. Don Jaime did not only want the story published in full and prominently at that. He wanted the publication timed with the arrival of former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew in the Philippines.
Tiglao got P100,000 for the effort and immediately applied for a car loan at BPI Family Bank that was also owned by Zobel. The rest of the money was never reported by Mangahas to PCIJ nor to Zobel.
Inspired, and apparently thirsting for more money from Mangahas, Tiglao liberally attacked the inefficiency of PLDT and strongly proposed the creation of a new competitor that was not named in his story.
Singapore was in thick negotiation with Ayala for the merger of Globe Mackay with Singapore Telecoms to break the PLDT monopoly and become the new dominant player in the Philippine Communications industry.
Tony Boy Cojuangco, a Chinese mestizo, was then president of PLDT. The chairman was Don Alfonso Yuchengco, a Chinese taipan, who was emerging larger than Ayala in many businesses, like banking and insurance.
Lee was coming to the Philippines to address the Philippine Business Conference, the annual gathering of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Tony Boy Cojuangco was the chairman of the conference that was to be held at the EDSA Plaza of Shangri-La, a hotel owned by Singaporean interests. The guest of honor and speaker, of course, was Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew. Through the help of the Sorianos, the other vanishing Spanish mestizo tribe in the country, Lee was introduced to the audience by no other than Tony Boy.
Poor Tony Boy. His face was all red when the former prime minister began his speech. All Lee did was to read before the audience the entire article of Tiglao that brutally attacked the PLDT. At every pause, the Soriano and Ayala led audience thundered with an applause that must have torn to bits and pieces the eardrums of Tony Boy.
Not content, Malou had Amando Doronilla, her former boss at the Manila Chronicle, reprint the attack in his newspaper, which was owned 50-50 by Tony Boy and Chinese bad boy Roberto Coyiuto. Earlier, Mangahas went to Don Jaime for another P1 million which was not again reported to PCIJ. Mangahas impressed upon Don Jaime the importance of having Lee's speech reprinted at the Chronicle because 50 percent of it was owned by Tony Boy. The other half of the Chronicle was owned Chinese tycoon Roberto Coyiuto Jr. who was then quarrelling with Yuchengco for the control of Oriental Petroleum.
Earlier, Doronilla was also given free airfare to Singapore and hotel accommodation to interview Me. Lee.
Doronilla needed the money. He had a mistress he wanted named in the Cabinet of Cory Aquino but was denied. Since then, Doronilla became a Cory hater. Doronilla needed the money because of the incredible lifestyle of his mistress. who was known to be spending the money on other men. Doronilla, at his age, could no longer satisfy the sexual needs of his mistress.
It was a successful offensive because no sooner, the public clamored for the establishment of Globe Telecom that is now known for violating every rule in the game at the expense of PLDT, the National Telecommunications Commission and the subscribers.
As a reward, PCIJ was given more millions by Don Jaime Zobel. The PCIJ, because of the money, was now able to move to a better and spunkier location, the Ortigas Center in Pasig City. Its staffers were able to travel around the world, courtesy of Don Jaime Zobel.
But the assignment did not end there. Ayala's dominance in the property sector was being threatened by the Chinoys. So the next target became the more prominently known Tan Yu who was building several twin towers on the reclaimed Manila Bay in Parañaque City.
This time, Malou was no longer content with P1 million per piece Don Jaime was giving her. She was asking for more, claiming the story had to appear on the front pages of all the newspapers, including the Manila Chronicle, which was very costly.
Don Jaime was finding Malou to be really expensive. Through Danny Gozo, he approached the gang of Doronilla at the Chronicle for the possibility of putting up an Ayala owned newspapers. But Don Jaime found it more expensive and more ineffective, so that he had to go back to Malou Mangahas.
The attack was ruthless and questioned the legitimacy of Tan Yu's wealth and his capacity to win the bidding for Camp John Hay in Baguio City. Tan Yu eventually had to withdraw. It was a victory but the unexpected happened. The unintended beneficiary won, Congressman Manny Villar, later withdrew because he said the government was not transparent in the deal. It claimed the government did not tell him certain portions of the Camp were not included in the bidding.
Zobel was apparently impressed by the Tan Yu story, so he asked the PCIJ to write another series, this time on Andrew Gotianun of Filinvest who was then bidding for the Stud Farm that was very adjacent to Ayala Alabang executive village and Ayala Alabang commercial center.
The attack on Gotianun was also relentless, but he pursued his bid and won over the Ayalas. Had the Ayalas won, they would have cornered that vast property which was adjacent to Ayala Alabang.
For the effort, millions more were deposited in the bank account of PCIJ and the personal passbook of Malou Mangahas. To hide the money from the authorities, PCIJ asked the SEC to keep the PCIJ file confidential.
But why should Gozo ask Malou to ally herself with the Ayalas when he was Cory's press undersecretary? Cory Aquino had to sack Gozo for putting his finger into the Pagcor pie without the knowledge and approval of his boss Teodoro Benigno who was fanatic follower of Cory and Ninoy Aquino. He had to make even.
But the Ayalas were not winning the bidding war despite the PCIJ. And so, the PCIJ, upon instruction of Don Jaime, trained their hoses on President Ramos who was being suspected of being behind Fil-Estate that was growing larger than Ayala.
The first salvo was below the belt. They linked Arenas to President Ramos through unnamed sources interviewed here and abroad. Later they ran stories against Fil-Estate and directly accused Ramos of having an equity stake in the company.
Then sensing that in the next presidential elections, Speaker Joe De Venecia would be the anointed one of Ramos, the speaker was not spared.
The strategy, this time, was to penetrate the Manila Times that was run by Malou's former classmate Robina, daughter of Chinese Taipan John Gokongwei who was also a fierce Ayala competitor, particularly in the hotel, telecom and food businesses.
In no time, Malou was able to oust Editor-in-chief Ricky Agcaoili. She placed her own men of unquestioned integrity and recruited Chit Estela from the Inquirer to act as her Managing Editor.
Malou never knew how to close a paper so she had to rely on chit.
Her new employees never knew Malou was there as Don Jaime's deep penetration agent. Her task was to destroy de Venecia and at the same time make it look like the Gokongweis were behind the plot to discredit de Venecia and the Ramos administration.
The Ayalas were rooting for Renato de Villa, and so were the Inquirer owners. Don Jaime believed that what he did not get from Cory and Ramos he could get from de Villa.
De Villa lost, Erap won. Still the Ayalas could not get all they wanted. And so, PCIJ continues to exist up to this day.
Because Don Jaime could not get closer to Erap, he instructed Malou to use the Gokongwei paper to criticize every move of Erap in the hope the President would finally give in to the lobbying of the Ayala Group of Companies.
They found a tough adversary in Erap. When the Manila Times headlined the "ninong" story against Erap, it found threatened with a libel suit. Robina had to apologize.
Chit called Malou, who was in the US for a study grant, for an advice. "We will all resign if Robina apologizes," Malou e-mailed Chit.
Robina apologized. Chit and her group resigned. But not Malou. Her assignment from Don Jaime was to stay on until the Gokongweis were forced to close or sell the paper. Chit was very bitter. Malou had taken her for a ride. But why not? Chit was not a member of PCIJ.
Malou is jobless but with PCIJ and the Ayalas, who needs a job and a salary? Sheila Coronel is jobless, but again, there's the PCIJ that is awash with money. What about Tiglao? He's wallowing in poverty because he's as empty headed as when he first went into journalism. Poor Tiglao, he lost his job at PCIJ and is now working on piece meal basis.
And the banks are running after him because the money from Malou stopped coming in.
But what kind of a woman is this Malou Mangahas?
She is married to a certain Ruel, a researcher from IBON who could not find a job in any newspaper. When Malou became editor of the Manila Times, she fired business editor Rey Enano and appointed her husband as the new business editor.
While at the Manila Times, Malou used its entire facility for the PCIJ, including the publication of several books on the comfort women and the corruption in the press.
Malou hated corrupt journalists who were not allied to her. She asked the entire staff not to accept coffee or dinner offers from news sources or accept travel invitations from them unless the staffers themselves were the ones spending for the coffee and food or for the travel invitation.
Yet, when Honda Philippines invited her to Tokyo free of charge to see a car show, she readily accepted it. She claimed before her staff that she could no longer resist the invitation because Honda was her friend.
Malou and Ruel are world travelers but their legitimate income does not show they can afford such travels. Once in a while, Ruel's stories see print in the London Financial Time, but is meagerly paid by the publication because he is a poor writer like Malou.
It's time for the rest of the PCIJ people to ask Malou for an accounting of their money.