In response to the PCIJ’s three-part series on “Money Politics and the May 2013 Elections,” Mr. Paul Aquino, father of Sen. Paolo Benigno ‘Bam’ Aquino IV, sent an email to the PCIJ on October 3 asking why he was mentioned in the second part of the series about donors who have links to sectors that are regulated and therefore prohibited from making election contributions.
Mr. Aquino said he had replied to the PCIJ’s earlier inquiries into his past involvement with the Energy Development Corporation and Greencore Geothermal Corporation, and as such saw no need for his name to be included in the story.
The PCIJ looked into the profiles of the major campaign donors of the 12 winning candidates for senator and conducted an extensive background check on them. Mr. Aquino’s name was one of many names that came up during the initial research in June 2013. For this reason, the PCIJ sent Mr. Aquino’s office a letter-request for an interview at least three times.
The first letter was faxed to Mr. Aquino’s office on June 8. After several subsequent calls, Mr. Aquino’s secretary asked for another faxed letter. His secretary also informed the PCIJ that Mr. Aquino was still in China and may not be able to respond to the letter-request yet.
A third follow-up letter was faxed to his office on August 6.
On September 2, Mr. Aquino sent an emailed reply to the PCIJ inquiries.
We are reproducing his email in full here:
Dear Mr. Corrales,
This is in response to your letter dated August 6, 2013.
I was out of the country and I came to know of your letter only today.
I have retired as an officer and director of Energy Development Corporation
and it’s operating subsidiaries as of July, 2010.
Paul A. Aquino
P.S. I would appreciate a written receipt of this email. Thanks in advance
On October 1, the PCIJ released the first of its three-part report on “Money Politics and the May 2013 Elections,” where donors with links to sectors that are prohibited from making contributions were identified.
In the story published October 2, Mr. Paul Aquino was mentioned as donating P 10.2 million to the campaign of his son Senator Aquino. It was stated in the story that the elder Aquino had been heavily engaged in the extractive industries “until his retirement in 2010.”
In fact, the story quoted Mr. Aquino’s email as saying that he had retired in July 2010 from Energy Development Corporation and all its subsidiaries.
The segment in question appears below:
“Aquino received as well a campaign contribution of P 10.2 million from his father Paul Aquino, who had been heavily engaged in the extractive industries, particularly in geothermal energy extraction, until his retirement in 2010.
Prior to his retirement, Paul Aquino had been president and Chief Executive Officer of Energy Development Corporation, in 2004, when it was still a government-owned and -controlled company under the Philippine National Oil Company, and carrying over the position well past the EDC’s privatization and sale to the Lopez group in 2007.
After 2007, Paul Aquino also became president of Green Core Geothermal Incorporated, a generation, distribution, and transmission company owned by the Lopez group.
Replying to inquiries sent by PCIJ, Paul Aquino stressed that he is no longer connected with the EDC or any of its subsidiaries.
“I have retired as an officer and director of Energy Development Corporation and its operating subsidiaries as of July 2010,” the older Aquino said in an email.”
On Oct. 3, Mr Aquino again wrote the PCIJ, asking why he was still mentioned in the PCIJ story.
Mr. Aquino’s Oct. 3 email is shown below:
Dear Mr. Corrales,
There is a PCIJ report that states that my contribution to my son’s campaign is
I believe I have answered your letter dated 6 August 2013 sufficiently. To repeat,
I have retired from EDC and all it’s operating subsidiaries as of July, 2010. Such
date is more than 2 and a half years before the election of May 2013.
Why you have included me in your report puzzles me. What gives?
Paul A. Aquino
The PCIJ story is about contributors who have links to sectors that are barred from making campaign donations. As President/CEO of the Energy Development Corporation for six years, first when the EDC was still a subsidiary of the Philippine National Oil Company, and later when the EDC was privatized and sold to the Lopez Group, and as President of GreenCore Geothermal until his retirement in 2010, Mr. Aquino was heavily engaged in the extractive industries that are barred from making election contributions.
It is clear in the story published on Oct. 2 that the PCIJ does not in any way assert that Mr. Aquino is still working for these companies; in fact it was emphasized twice, both through the text of the story and through the quotes from Mr. Aquino, that he had already officially retired in 2010.
However, the PCIJ believes that it was worth mentioning Mr. Aquino’s previous and deep engagement with both EDC and Greencore considering the positions and length of time that he served in these two corporations that are branded the largest geothermal operators in the country.