Thinking Pinoy: #BangkoSerye: How close is Tordesillas to Magdalo Hacker Bem Pontejos?

May 1, 2016

#BangkoSerye: How close is Tordesillas to Magdalo Hacker Bem Pontejos?



In yestertday's “Sonny Trillanes and his Hacker-Friend”, ThinkingPinoy showed how a random inquiry about journalist Ellen Tordesillas showed a link between the feisty Senator and her. In that article, TP discovered that the Armand Pontejos who serves as EllenTordesillas.com’s webmaster is not only a computer hacker, but also a dismissed Navy lieutenant conspired with Senator Trillanes to stage the 2003 Oakwood Mutiny.

It was clear in the previous article that ThinkingPinoy gave Ellen Tordesillas the benefit of the doubt. After all, even the most experienced journalist can unwittingly be a pawn in this grand power play. However, just like any citizen journalist worth his salt, ThinkingPinoy decided to investigate further Tordesillas’ potential links with Trillanes and the coup plotter Magdalo Group.


To do this, ThinkingPinoy will attempt to:
  1. Explore links between Ellen Tordesillas and Armand Pontejos.
  2. Explore more links between Pontejos and Trillanes.
Let’s go.

Pontejos does some housekeeping

Just last night, Pontejos may have found out about ThinkingPinoy’s April 29 article so he may have hurriedly got domain privacy protection for EllenTordesillas.com. [ICANN WHOIS].


Because of domain privacy, the site’s WHOIS data changed from this:



To this:



While the new WHOIS results for the site shows dummy contacts (“WHOISGUARD PROTECTED”), the results still show other site details that cannot be masked by domain privacy.

In particular, this.

Now how is that highlighted "creation date" relevant?

The Pontejos-Tordesillas Connection

Just how long has Pontejos and Tordesillas known each other? The same WHOIS data can provide us a clue.

Again, the results page show this important piece of information:
Creation Date: 2005-10-28T03:44:00.00Z
The "Creation Date" suggests that the site was created in October 2005. This is consistent with the fact that Tordesillas’ first articles in the said website were published in October 2005 [Tordesillas].

Now, domain registration is rarely forever, as common plans range from 1-year registration and a 10-year registration, as shown by a GoDaddy checkout page below:


That is, there's a possibility that Tordesillas and Pontejos did not just enter into a one-time transaction in 2005. They might have had to meet again in 2015 – at the latest – to renew the site’s registration.

Of course, that may have to mean having to maintain contact throughout the years, especially since Pontejos is basically Tordesillas’ webmaster, i.e. her website mechanic.

Moreover, the fact that Pontejos reacted yesterday to the previous ThinkingPinoy article suggests that Pontejos and Tordesillas may have maintained constant contact with each other up to this day.

But is that the only link between Tordesillas and Pontejos?

VERA Files' Files


Aside from EllenTordesillas.com, Tordesillas is also deeply involved in Verafiles.org, where she is a trustee [EllenTordesillas]. She also contributes articles to the said website, such as “The Evolution of Duterte’s BPI Account” which was published yesterday, April 29th [Verafiles].


Verafiles is a fact-checking news website. Founded in March 2008, VERA Files is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.” [Verafiles]

Now, after performing a WHOIS search on Verafiles.org, ThinkingPinoy got these results:




That is, the website is registered under the name “Yvonne Chua” and the email “bonchua[at]pldtdsl.net”.


According to her LinkedIn account, Yvonne Chua is an Assistant Professor of Journalism in UP Diliman and like Tordesillas, a VERA Files trustee.



What’s interesting here, however, is not Prof. Chua, but her email address “bonchua[at]pldt.net”.

This is because Website.informer.com associates Pontejos and his company Toolkit Inc to Chua’s email address, as shown below.


That is, the site suggests that Pontejos not only has access to Chua's email account, but also that VeraFiles.org used to be associated with Pontejos and Toolkit Inc.

Note, however, that VERA Files’ current WHOIS data point to Prof. Chua as the current administrator.

Tordesillas-Pontejos: Purely Business?

Armand Pontejos also goes by the nickname "Bem", according this GMANews article written by Tordesillas. Let me quote a part of the said article with Tordesillas writing in the first person:
"We were there May 18 and 19, weekdays. The beach was not teeming with people like what it was when we were there for the wedding of Magdalo officer Armand “Bem” Pontejos and Bamby Frangue from Caluya, Antique last April 29, right after Holy Week."
So it appears that Tordesillas is friends with Pontejos: only friends get invited to weddings. 

Logically, ThinkingPinoy tried to look for additional Tordesillas-written articles about the said event, and Google gave me this:

Unfortunately, however, upon clicking on that link, it appears that the article has been taken down from EllenTordesillas.com, as shown below:


But ThinkingPinoy is resourceful, so he checked for archived copies of this page from the Wayback Machine of San Francisco-based non-profit Internet Archive

The Wayback Machine is a digital archive of the World Wide Web and other information on the Internet. It basically stores copies of most pages on the web so they can be retrieved even after the original pages have been deleted.

Now, checking the archived copy of EllenTordesillas.com's deleted blog posts, this is what we see [Wayback Machine]:



In particular, TP would like to quote a few lines from this blog post:
Bem and Bam’s love storyEllen Tordesillas 
I’m going to THE WEDDING today... of Bem Pontejos and Bam Frangue, two wonderful people I know...in Boracay...
I first met Bem at the Marine Brig in Fort Bonifacio where he was detained together with other Magdalo officers for standing up against the unelected and corrupt Arroyo presidency on July 26, 2003, what is now referred to as the “Oakwood mutiny.”...
Bem is Armand Pontejos...  
Trillanes told me the girlfriend of one the Magdalo soldiers was the daughter of one of the mayors in Antique. He was Mayor Frangue... 
Trillanes... is one of the wedding sponsors... 
I saw familiar names in the list of sponsors: Sen. Gregorio Honasan; Sen. Loren Legarda...Col. Ariel Querubin... 
Today’s wedding is proof of the adage ”love conquers all.”
The way Tordesillas wrote this piece -- with tenderness and affection -- suggest a very close friendship with the Pontejos-Frangue couple. Her lines also show her sympathy for the Magdalo group's cause.

Now, as to whether Magdalo's coup attempt was justified or not isn't for ThinkingPinoy to decide. Nevertheless, this close friendship can be a source of personal bias on the part of journalist Tordesillas. It can also be capitalized on. After all, what's a favor between friends?

The Pontejos-Trillanes Connection

Pontejos and Trillanes were part of the Magdalo group of soldiers who staged the Oakwood Mutiny [PCIJ].

Despite both soldiers' dismissal from the AFP, Pontejos seems to have continued to be sympathetic to the Magdalo Group, judging from the videos in his youtube channel, which included an advertisement for Trillanes.




But they appear to be more than just brothers-in-arms.


Based on Website Informer, Pontejos is the current owner of the domain name SamahangMagdalo.org:



Moreover, a quick google search also shows that he or his company owns the domain name Trillanes.org, as shown below:

Check the first entry in the search results.

Yes, it appears that Trillanes and Pontejos currently have a working relationship.


What do we make of this?

This article does not automatically imply the guilt of Pontejos and Tordesillas in relation to the BPI leak.

Instead, ThinkingPinoy has shown evidence that Tordesillas may actually have a close relationship -- both business and personal -- with a major Trillanes-Magdalo sympathizer, who also happens to be a trained computer hacker.


For law enforcers, that’s what can probably be called a “lead”. (TP)


Did you like this post? Help ThinkingPinoy.com stay up! Even as little as 50 pesos will be a great help!