Velarde’s mansions in heaven

In one of the many Saturday gatherings of El Shaddai, Brother Mike Velrde told his followers that he had reserved mansions for them in heaven, free of charge, I suppose.

But while on earth, his flock must probably have to wait for their death before they can be entitled to the mansions Bro. Mike had mentioned.

The El Shaddai cathedral was just being constructed at the Multinational Village in Paranaque City that he had much earlier bought under circumstances I could no longer recall.

I really thought the mansions Velarde was promising to his flock of believers were just a figure of speech, especially when he constructed his Amvel Mansions condominiums located in the same subdivision.

In case you don’t know where Amvel and the El Shaddai Cathedral are, they are adjacent to the “liko-likong” or crooked C-5 extension between the property of Senator Manny Villar and the south expressway service road.

Some told me I should convert to El Shaddai because the mansions mentioned in his sermons were actually meant for believers who are still on earth.

In a sense, the condominium units towering the place appeared to be intended for that purpose until I learned from the new management of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) that the old leadership had sold many of them to Pagcor.

The condo units were, after all, were being bought by Pagcor to shelter its employees from rain and the elements of all sorts, excluding criminal elements who, at one time or another, used Multinational Village as haven for drug pushers and manufacturers.

What a noble and genuine purpose until the new Pagcor management said that the leadership of Chairman Efraim Genuino wanted to instead provide housing with all its perks to lucky gamblers traveling to the Philippines, by sea or by air.

Maricar Bautista, Pagcor’s assistant vice president for corporate communication, said  employees were not consulted before the agency bought 66 units worth P268 million from the Velarde real estate firm.

Moreover, she said the purported beneficiaries of the deal were unaware that the agency was buying the condominiums in Parañaque City from the Velarde-owned Amvel Mansions Condominium.

She said Pagcor, under its then, bought the condominiums in 2008 for P3.4 million up to P5.11 million each. The purchase was purportedly made to provide employees with decent and affordable housing.

The new Pagcor management has offered to sell the units to its employees at zero interest with a 20-year repayment period, but Bautista said so far “there are no takers.”

“There were seven employees who expressed interest but that’s it. There’s nothing final,” she added.

According to Bautista, the Commission on Audit (COA) said that the purchase was unnecessary because Pagcor took out a loan for it and that the money could have been better used for revenue generation or priority projects. It recommended that the condominium units be sold. Raul Valino

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