BIZ BUZZ

Another life claimed

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08:34 PM August 6th, 2013

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By: the staff, August 6th, 2013 08:34 PM

Another promising career has been destroyed—and a young life tragically ended—in the process of government authorities’ dogged pursuit of the case against former officials of Development Bank of the Philippines for an allegedly behest P660-million loan to businessman Roberto Ongpin in 2009.

According to Biz Buzz sources, the latest casualty was former DBP assistant manager Warren de Guzman, who passed away last Monday due to cardiac arrest caused by complications from meningitis.

De Guzman was, according to our source, a rising star in the DBP officer corps and one of the topnotchers of the bank’s highly competitive management training program where the skills of its future leaders are honed.

“He was a bright boy, and so well spoken,” said one official who knew him personally, adding that he was a high school valedictorian and a cum laude graduate of UP Diliman’s economics program.

His supposedly crime in the eyes of authorities? De Guzman did the paperwork for the controversial Ongpin loan—standard, pro forma loan documents—simply because the designated account officer for the deal was on maternity leave.

“He didn’t even have to do due diligence on the transaction because all that was already done at higher levels,” said the source. “It was just simple paperwork.”

Since the documents passed through him, he was included in the charge sheet, despite several senior officials begging the bank’s newly appointed board to spare him from a career-ending suit. There was no reasoning with the authorities, apparently.

The rest is history. The Ombudsman ordered him dismissed from service, along with the forfeiture of a host of benefits, all because he was unlucky enough to have filled in for another officer on leave.

“He was the bread winner of the family, he was the eldest of eight children,” the source said. “And no bank would take him because he had a case against him, so he worked in a call center for a time.”

But after the intervention of some well-meaning friends, one bank did, waiving the usual stringent requirements probably on humanitarian grounds.

Alas, De Guzman was struck by meningitis and fell into a coma. With no reserve funds at his disposal, retired DBP officials and other friends pitched in to cover the expenses of his treatment. “When he woke up from the three-week coma, the first thing he asked us was ‘Is there an arrest warrant out for me?,’” the source said (at that time, the warrant had yet to be issued). “It was bothering him the whole time.”

Another life gone, just three days after the second death anniversary of the late DBP lawyer Benjamin Pinpin, who was also caught up in the case. Incidentally, De Guzman passed away two years to the day that the original charges were filed by the bank’s new board. Food for thought.  Daxim L. Lucas

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