President Aquino practices selective justice

Frankly Speaking
By Frank Wenceslao

Abad and Aquino

Abad and Aquino

Why doesn’t President Aquino ask Ochoa and Abad to go on leave and appoint a special prosecutor, say, a retired SC justice to investigate whether they are involved or not in the Napoles scams instead of PNoy acting as investigator, prosecutor, and judge absolving the two without trial? With regards to the dismissal of the charges against Ongpin, et al. for lack of evidence the SB majority seems to indicate the resolution is the same as President Aquino’s practice of dismissing the charges against officials close to him as though they won’t betray him and be involved in graft and corruption.

Roberto Ongpin

Roberto Ongpin

The media reported that the 5-member Sandiganbayan Special Third Division dismissed by 3 to 2 on May 28 the graft charges against Ongpin with former officers and executives of the state-owned DBP for the P660-million loan granted Ongpin in 2009. The majority resolution held that the cases should not have reached the Court because the evidence offered by the respondents during preliminary investigation clearly refuted all allegations of irregularities in the grant of the loans. The Court said the Office of the Ombudsman ignored the evidence and allowed itself to be pressured into issuing criminal indictments. The resolution says, “This case should have been dismissed at the preliminary investigation stage. Pressures of public opinion however dictate that in order to avoid the brunt and pain of criticism it would be most convenient to pass unto the Court the responsibility to dismiss these cases.” Associate Justice Samuel Martires penned the decision, while Associate Justices Jose Hernandez and Efren de la Cruz concurred. On the other hand, Associate Justices Oscar Herrera and Maria Cristina Cornejo submitted dissenting opinions presumably the two must are abreast with banking laws and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) regulations as well as the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) development lending and financing policies.

There’s nothing farther from the truth than the majority’s findings no irregularities surrounded the approval of the P660-million DBP loan. Hence, the charges were dismissed setting aside the biggest prima facie evidence, i.e. irregularity is the fact Ongpin was granted a DBP loan to buy the bank’s own Philex blue-chip shares from its development funds for lending only to industrial and agribusiness projects for accelerating the nation’s economic development program, increase the gross domestic product (GDP) and hasten job creation for the jobless and new entrants to the labor force. Neither DBP nor Ongpin can achieve these objectives by granting Ongpin a loan to be able to buy DBP’s blue-chip Philex shares.

Surely, the 3-justice majority knew it’s not the DBP’s business to make Ongpin and alleged co-conspirator, former FG Mike Arroyo, windfall profits out of the bank’s blue-chip stocks it’s buying from the open market, sell these as a block of shares and also lent the money to Ongpin-controlled company, Delta Ventures Resources Inc. (DVRI) to pay the price. DVRI was so undercapitalized that the Commission on Audit (COA) noted the first tranche of the loan of P510-million released was 816 times more than the firm’s paid-up capital, which raised doubts about its repayment capacity that to increase the loan security DVRI pledged the DBP’s own Philex shares yet to be sold to it and paid by it with the P660 DBP million loan.

More irregularities would’ve emerged had the trial been allowed to proceed and biggest irregularity the majority would learn why Ongpin had to borrow from the DBP when media reports are rife of Ongpin’s multibillion investments in the country and his net worth having reached $2 billion and adopt ala-Marcos behest loan which would’ve been possible only if he had good connection who could prevail on DBP President and Vice Chairman Reynaldo David, his board of directors and other bank officers without prolonged deliberation and consultation with superiors such as the Finance Secretary and the BSP Governor if lending P660 Million of DBP’s funds would be wise and in accordance with banking laws and BSP regulations.

The loan granted to Ongpin secured by the DBP’s own assets and object of sale is a classic case of the government being fried in its own cooking oil and could only have happened with the former FG Mike Arroyo’s behind-the-scene intervention. This is the most glaring irregularity the 3-justice majority failed to see or they’re blindsided to realize this is a violation of Sec. 3(e), RA 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act when the DBP officers without any objection on the record collectively “gives Ongpin, a private party, unwarranted benefits causing undue injury to the DBP, hence the government.” To set the record straight in order to show how blindsided the 3- justice majority, the following is excerpted from an investigator’s report that a source gave me this material for a column or article about the DBP loan scandal and the former FG’s role in it, to wit:

Early in 2009 Reynaldo David, then DBP president and vice chairman, was handpicked by former FG Mike Arroyo to complete the 11-member board of directors of Philex Mining Corporation as an independent director, not DBP representative. Less than 6 months after Philex’s June board meeting then Philex CEO Walter Brown, Philex director Ongpin’s group and DBP’s David jointly sold all their Philex shares to MV Pangilinan’s group at a fabulous price of P21 per share that meant a big windfall for Brown, Ongpin, David and the FG whose shares were held by Ongpin and David. But even with the additional shares the Pangilinan group’s voting rights were not sufficient for Philex to proceed with the annual stockholders’ meeting to approve key policy decisions to favor Pangilinan’s and Ongpin’s groups that were nearly in control of the mining company.

The first irregularity in the loan transaction occurred when David, still DBP president with the same officers and executives charged by the Ombudsman, decided a month before the sale to Pangilinan at P21.00 per share to sell DBP’s over 100 million shares to Ongpin at only P12.75 per share. The baffling price difference and the timing of the two deals – 4 weeks apart – have raised critics’ voices and fanned speculation that Ongpin and the FG were in a cabal to make even bigger windfall by first buying the over 100 million DBP shares at P12.75 and selling them to Pangilinan at the price he paid of P21.00 per share barely 4 weeks before that Ongpin surely knew Pangilinan needed to call Philex’s annual stockholders’ meeting and revamp company policies to his liking.

Ongpin’s ill-conceived motive should have been apparent to the 3-justice majority, i.e. Ongpin wanted to buy the DBP shares and sell them MV Pangilinan at a bigger windfall because Ongpin knew Pangilinan needed that block of Philex shares to increase his holdings and voting rights to enable him to fashion company policies to his desires, something the two astute businessmen undoubtedly discussed and premeditatedly agreed upon in an inside trading (a crime?) for both are Philex board members. The other undeniable proof of ill-conceived motive even though it was purported that Ongpin sold all his group’s shares including the FG’s to the Pangilinan group, he (Ongpin) actually had enough shares left to continue as Philex director for the stockholders’ annual meeting.

More irregularities happened when the bank skirted many BSP’s regulations to grant the loans, the second of which was approved in one day. For anyone to believe that the FG wasn’t involved in this caper and not a co-conspirator needs his head examined. There’s enough evidence for him to be included in the complaint and it looks though there’s an OMB Arroyo loyalist that decided to exclude him among the accused.

Another irregularity overlooked perhaps because of Ongpin’s unmatched “praise-releases” is why he used ala-Marcos’ behest DBP loans and relied on Arroyo to have it approved knowing full well the irregularities would smell like rotten Danish cheese and adversely impact his business reputation. At that point in time Ongpin had overextended his finances and has had funding difficulties as the banks became wary to lend money to his flagship project, Alphaland Corp. following the divestment by UK-based investment firm Ashmore Group from the listed property firm. Ashmore Group was allegedly fronting for Ongpin in managing Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth finally cut off their relationship last year leaving their unfinished projects including the ‘jewels in the crown’ such as Balesin Island Club, Makati Place, Alphaland Tower, Alphaland Marina Club and several other major projects now running short of funding. On top of this criminal case, Ongpin has civil suits filed by Ashmore and his other partners reportedly for borrowing funds and using collaterals the pieces of land belonging to Filipino partners whose ownership has not yet turned over to Alphaland.

Some US-Pinoy lawyers aren’t sure whether the DOJ or OMB or both would submit a motion for reconsideration (MfR) of the dismissal of the graft charges against Ongpin, et al. They decided nonetheless to submit an amicus curiae’s brief to refute the majority’s resolution that the cases should not have reached the court because the evidence offered by the respondents during preliminary investigation clearly refuted all allegations of irregularities in the grant of the loans.

One Response. Have your say.

  1. Jose Samilin says:

    t seems that our prosecutors in all past cases of corruption, i.e., GMA’s PCSO, Roberto Ongpin DBP 660M pesos Loan scandal, etc. were all exonerated for failures of prosecutor’s weak evidential matters and I can foresee all these corruption cases will suffer similar fate deficiency in court. The prosecutor is at fault, though it’s the wrong and misguided NBI and COA investigation were used in raw form, therefore, it cannot withstand the final test in court. What is wrong then? The led Attorney of the prosecution is wrong or incompetent or either lacking competency in organizing the team, lacking devotion to truth and itself corrupt, or improper assessment of competent evidential matters in court presentation for litigation. Remember COA and NBI paper work, were not evidence at all in criminal case, they are raw paper works, if not examined and converted to as evidence by competent forensic auditor who is expert witness in court, could led those papers detrimental to the case.

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