MANILA, Philippines?Globe Asiatique Realty Holdings Corp. was able to get billions of pesos from the Pag-IBIG Fund for its projects in Pampanga province through the fund?s ?express lane? program, the head of the national savings and housing agency said Wednesday.
Emma Linda Faria, officer in charge of the Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG Fund), said the new system allowed developers to receive housing loan applications and process them.
Faria testified at the Senate finance committee hearing on salaries in government-owned and -controlled corporations, but ended up getting a mouthful from lawmakers over Globe Asiatique.
The developer has been found to have used spurious Pag-IBIG borrowers to finance its Xevera projects in Mabalacat and Bacolor, Pampanga.
Conflict of interest
Sen. Sergio Osmeña III, chair of committee on banks, financial institutions and currencies, said allowing developers to receive housing loan applications and process them involved a conflict of interest.
Osmeña said it was in Globe Asiatique owner?s ?own self-interest to make sure he makes the sale regardless of whether he makes the payment to (Pag-IBIG) or not.?
?Haven?t you learned your lesson from the past? You guys, you deliberately did this?? he asked Faria.
Globe Asiatique is an accredited developer of a Pag-IBIG pilot program for so-called Other Working Groups (OWG), which the agency defined as ?individuals who have a regular source of income but have no formal employer-employee relationship.? Pag-IBIG approved the pilot program on June 20, 2008.
Osmeña said people in Pag-IBIG who allowed Globe Asiatique to receive housing loan applications and to process them should be thrown in jail.
?It?s absolute stupidity and it?s happened before,? he added.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile noted that Globe Asiatique appeared to have been a favored developer, a treatment that allowed the company to receive billions from Pag-IBIG.
?They are, in effect, Pag-IBIG already,? he said at the hearing. (Pag-IBIG is love in Filipino.)
Noli de Castro
Osmeña was incredulous that former Vice President Noli de Castro, erstwhile housing czar, had practically cleared Globe Asiatique amid revelations that the firm had used dead claimants and ineligible borrowers to secure payments from Pag-IBIG.
?I?m very surprised when former Vice President Noli de Castro practically absolved Globe Asiatique,? Osmeña said.
Delfin Lee, Globe Asiatique president, earlier told the Inquirer that De Castro was instrumental in adjusting rules like membership requirements for the OWG.
?This is totally unacceptable. This is gross corruption, 110 percent. That?s unforgivable,? Osmeña said.
Sen. Franklin Drilon, finance committee chair, asked Faria how Pag-IBIG could allow ?fake borrowers, obviously in cahoots with your regional people,? to carry out the fraudulent scheme.
?This fraud happened and you were not able to catch it in the head office,? Drilon said. ?There was some flaw in your monitoring mechanism.?
Faria said inspections of Globe Asiatique housing projects had been hampered partly by supposed threats coming the developer. She did not elaborate, claiming the matter was still being investigated by the agency.
Osmeña said Globe Asiatique somehow pulled a fast one on Pag-IBIG when it secured the P7.1-billion payment for its housing projects, considering the 7-percent interest rate that came with it.
Faria said the rate was covered by a maximum payment scheme of 30 years for houses worth P750,000. Monthly amortization was P5,000 or P60,000 annually.
?Actually, they borrowed your money at 7 percent and even if he (owner) does collect, (he) can just put it in the money market, take more than that, and still pay you 7 percent,? Osmeña said.
Federico Romero Quimbo
Osmeña said all officials who allowed ?ghost borrowers? to access state funds should be summoned to the hearing, including Marikina Rep. Federico Romero Quimbo, a former Pag-IBIG president.
The Senate, House of Representatives and the Office of the Ombudsman are set to inquire into the Pag-IBIG loan irregularities.
Quimbo Wednesday said he was willing to appear at any inquiry.
?I will absolutely participate in any venue that will ferret out the truth. It?s important for me as a former CEO of this institution ... so we can completely shed light if the objective is to find out who is responsible and prevent this from happening,? said the lawmaker, who filed a resolution seeking an inquiry into the matter.
Quimbo served as Pag-IBIG president from February 2002 to March 2009. He was replaced by Jimmy Fabiaña.
Quimbo said that he himself was saddened by the mess that tarnished Pag-IBIG?s image.
Quimbo said he was ?deeply interested? in any investigation because he said he worked hard to make Pag-IBIG the most profitable agency in government, netting an income of P9.8 billion and paying P2.4 billion in taxes as of the end of 2008.
?It was a very well-run organization ... I helped it grow, I took care of the organization. I?m proud of the work I?ve done there,? he said. ?We want to know what happened, and what went wrong.?
Quimbo said ?almost all of these loans? by Globe Asiatique were taken out after he quit in March last year to prepare for his congressional run.
?I?m pretty sure of that. You can validate that from them,? he said, referring to Pag-IBIG.
The lawmaker admitted being stumped by the loan irregularities involving Globe Asiatique, given the built-in internal controls, and the fact that the developer had recorded ?a 95-percent collection efficiency.?
?This would not have happened when I was there. We had internal controls built. We had checks and balances as far as these loans were concerned,? Quimbo said. ?In fact, at the time I don?t recall having a problem with Globe Asiatique.?