President Aquino still puzzled by DBP lawyer’s death
President Benigno Aquino III believes there is more to the death of a Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) lawyer who took his life last week amid a graft investigation in the institution.
Mr. Aquino said on Tuesday he had received a “verbal’’ report from Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima on the case the DBP has filed against businessman and former Trade Secretary Roberto Ongpin over loans made to the latter in 2009.
Ongpin’s company Delta Ventures Resources Inc. was able to secure, with undue haste, two loans totaling P660 million from DBP. But Ongpin has pointed out in statements in the press that no one lost money in the deal, in fact everyone involved, including the DBP, made a good profit.
The President said DBP assistant legal counsel Benjamin Pinpin was a “prime’’ witness to what transpired in the loan transaction.
“(Purisima) briefed me on what deals were under question, why they were under question and the process that the board undertook to unearth what actually happened,’’ Mr. Aquino told reporters after a visit to a Malampaya gas plant in Batangas City.
The President said he had asked finance officials to look into the death of Pinpin, who in suicide letters to his family told of pressure exerted on him by the current DBP leadership to incriminate coworkers in the transactions with Ongpin.
He said this was because Pinpin was described to him as “one of the initial witnesses, if not the prime witnesses, to what actually transpired.’’
“So I would wonder, kung nagi-guilty ka na may mali na nangyari, nung pag-reveal mo niyan, di dapat e para lumuwang yung loob mo, pero hindi ganoon (if you feel guilty about something, when you reveal it won’t you feel relieved? But that’s not what happened). So [there’s] inconsistency, I would like to find out why there was an inconsistency,” the President told reporters.
He said he was awaiting a more extensive report from Purisima.
Pinpin was found dead last week in a Las Piñas City hotel and police ruled a suicide.
Mr. Aquino had earlier instructed Purisima to look into whether or not the DBP board had become overzealous in its investigation of former bank officials who served during the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Last week, the DBP filed a case against Ongpin in the Office of the Ombudsman, alleging that he and former DBP president Rey David had connived in granting the loans to DVRI and, thus, exposed the bank to “high lending risks.”
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