Ex-Arroyo gov’t official charged with graft in P6B deal
MANILA — Former Government Corporate Counsel Agnes Devanadera has been charged with graft for advising the state-run Philippine National Construction Corp. (PNCC) to enter into an anomalous deal that would have required it to pay over P6 billion worth of loans to a private lender.
State prosecutors accused Devanadera of violating Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for advising the PNCC in January and February 2006 to enter into a compromise agreement with Radstock Securities Ltd., in order to settle the lending firm’s collection suit before the Court of Appeals.
Devanadera signed on Aug. 17, 2006 the compromise agreement where PNCC recognized its liability to Marubeni Corp. for P6.185 billion. (Marubeni was originally the entity that extended a loan to a mining subsidiary of PNCC’s predecessor, the Construction Development Corp. of the Philippines. Radstock later took over Marubeni’s rights to PNCC’s liabilities.)
In order to settle this, PNCC agreed to give Radstock 19 government-owned real properties worth P3.188 billion.
PNCC also signed away to Radstock half of its 6% share in the gross toll revenue of the Manila North Tollways Corp. This was approximately valued at P1.287 billion, and was set to last from 2008 to 2035.
Prosecutors said Devanadera approved the settlement despite the fact that its terms were “contrary to law.”
The PNCC Board had no power to compromise the settlement amount, the charge sheet argued. It also said the PNCC could not assign the toll fees to private entities like Marubeni and Radstock.
Prosecutors also said the PNCC could not transfer government-owned real property to Radstock in the absence of public bidding and without complying with existing property transfer laws.
Lastly, prosecutors said the PNCC’s assignment of “substantially all of its assets” in order to pay its obligations to Radstock was prejudicial to its other creditors and the national government.
Prosecutors recommended that bail for Devanadera be fixed at P30,000.
The Supreme Court voided the PNCC-Radstock settlement in 2009 for causing undue injury to the government. Decision writer Justice Antonio Carpio dubbed the agreement as “pillage of the public coffers that ranks among one of the most brazen and hideous in the history of this country.” SFM/rga
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