OSG wants 14 DBP execs in loan mess suspended

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01:14 AM September 20th, 2011

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Businessman Roberto Ongpin

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) on Monday asked the Office of the Ombudsman to issue a preventive suspension against 14 top officials of the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) in connection with the alleged P660 million behest loans that the state-owned bank extended to businessman Roberto Ongpin.

The OSG, representing the DBP, filed the 11-page motion seeking the suspension of the  DBP officials on Friday.

In a statement, Solicitor General Jose Anselmo Cadiz stressed the need to suspend the DBP officials to ensure they will not “prejudice the just, fair and independent disposition of the case filed against them.”

The DBP officials the OSG wants suspended are DBP director Franklin Velarde; chief operating officer Edgardo Garcia; marketing sector head Armando Samia; finance sector head Benedicto Bitonio; branch banking sector head Jesus Guevara II; chief legal counsel Benilda Tejada; banking sector marketing head Crescenciano Bundoc; credit review and policy supervision head Josephine Jaurigue; regional marketing center head Teresita Tolentino; branch banking manager Arturo Baliton; RMC Western Luzon Manager Marissa Cayetano; RMC Metro Manila Assistant Manager Rodolfo Cerezo; RMC Metro Manila Assistant Manager Warren de Guzman; and RMC Western Luzon chief accounts management specialist Nelson Macatlang.

Cadiz said Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales should immediately suspend the DBP officials to “prevent them from using their position to influence potential witnesses or tamper with records which may be vital in the prosecution of the case.”

The DBP officials are facing complaints of violation of the antigraft law and civil service law, and of the DBP and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ rules and regulations.

“The charges against the respondents clearly involve acts of manifest partiality, evident bad faith and gross inexcusable negligence which warrant their removal from service, ” the OSG said.

DBP refused to comment on  statement from the OSG, saying it ought to stay silent while the cases against its officials are being reviewed by the Ombudsman.

“The bank is not in a position at this point to comment on the matter because the complaint has already been filed with the Ombudsman. Let us allow the legal process to take its course,” DBP Vice President for Communications Leonora Fernandez told the Inquirer.

It’s unclear, however, why DBP which is a government financial institution is being represented by the OSG.

Under the law, the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) is the principal and statutory law office of  all government financial institutions, government-owned-and-controlled corporations (GOCC’s) and their subsidiaries.

But Cadiz explained that President Benigno Aquino III had mandated the OSG to pursue the DBP case.

On August 5, the DBP filed a case for graft and violation of banking laws against Ongpin, two other private individuals and 25 past and incumbent DBP officials with the Ombudsman.

It alleged that the officials had been partial to Ongpin and to Delta Ventures Resources Inc. by granting them undeserved loans in violation of banking rules and the DBP’s internal policies.

The DBP had granted P510 million and P150 million loans to DVRI, which Ongpin controls.

Cadiz said Ongpin used the loan to buy shares of stock in Philex Mining Corp. at P12.75 per share, which he later sold to Manuel V. Pangilinan’s Metro Pacific Group as part of a bloc at P21 per share.

But Ongpin had vehemently denied allegations that the transaction was highly irregular, claiming that DBP in fact made money from the interest of the loan which was repaid way ahead of its maturity.

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