Shocking Discovery at Joseph “Erap” Estrada’s Former Tagaytay Rest House

A Balikbayan in Tagaytay City was surprised when a local handyman, whom she hired to repair her newly-acquired vacation house handed her three aluminum boxes containing more than 2,000 casino chips, bank checks, and a traveling bag full of old and uncirculated Philippine bills.

Retired US-based accountant Rosalea Cristobal purchased a 210-square meter resort house just outside Tagaytay Highlands last January 2014. The property was formerly owned by former president, and now Manila mayor Joseph “Earp” Estrada during his term in Senate until he became the president of the Philippines, but abandoned when he was convicted and jailed.

Cristobal hired three local carpenters to restore the house, which almost made of wood. The three were reportedly working for three weeks already when they discovered the finds in the basement.

Neither Cristobal nor the agent who sold the house to her knew that the house has a basement, until carpenters unearthed the secret door which covered with thick dirt on Friday.

According to Dante De Jesus of Talisay, Batangas and one of the three carpenters, he was shocked when he discovered first the money, but knowing that the bills has no longer value, they decided to turn it over to the new owner.

“Ang daming pera, saying nga lang at kahit bago, din a rin pwedeng gamitin. Akala ko naka jackpot na ako”, De Jesus said.

(That was a large sum of money but it can’t be used anymore. I thought I hit the jackpot)

The three had no idea that the house was previously owned by Erap until they turned-over that finds to Cristobal.

According to Cristobal, the three aluminum boxes contained casino chips and some 9mm live ammo. There was also a travelling bag full of old but uncirculated money which Cristobal estimated to be more than five million pesos. The money, she said was withdrawn from Equitable Bank due to its labels.

The carpenters according to Cristobal also turned-over a wooden chest that contains several items including old identification cards of Erap, expired drivers license of a certain Amado Tagle of Amadeo, Cavite, a box of shotgun bullets, and three booklets issued by Equitable bank bearing the name of Jose Velarde.

“It looks like the basement was used as a stockroom. There are some old kitchen utensils and electronic appliances which I gave to the carpenters”, Cristobal said.

Since Cristobal now owns the house, the police said she has all the rights to own the finds. Cristobal said she is planning to bring the money to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas next week.

Estrada’s camp denied the report about the discovery, but admits that the former president owned the house for 18 years. Estrada’s spokesperson Nathaniel Cordova also said that Erap visited the place only three times when he was the president.

The discovery of Jose Velarde checks could renew Erap’s more than a decade case on perjury and corruption, and can be used by his political rivals (Lim and Bagatsing) against him.

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