DBP employees straining under new management’s aggressive probe tactics | Inquirer Business

DBP employees straining under new management’s aggressive probe tactics

/ 12:19 AM August 04, 2011

MANILA, Philippines—Many employees of the state-owned Development Bank of the Philippines reported for work on Wednesday, wearing black shirts or sporting black ribbons in grief over the suicide of a young lawyer in the midst of a controversial probe on transactions conducted during the previous regime.

The lawyer, Benjamin Pinpin, was earlier found dead hanging in a hotel room while suicide notes were found indicating his regret at having signed an affidavit attesting to an allegedly anomalous loan transacted by the government bank.


As paranoia gripped employees given an ongoing scrutiny of transactions during the previous regime, DBP president and chief executive officer Francisco del Rosario vowed to judiciously lead the bank through these tough times.

“I want you to know that as your CEO, I assure you that I believe in due process and protection of people’s rights,” Del Rosario said in a note to be circulated to employees.


The note added that the DBP would be ready to extend “all the necessary assistance” to the Pinpin family “during these difficult times.”

On the other hand, a former DBP board member said the previous DBP board was “aghast at the kind of methods and tactics employed by current board officials of DBP.”

Pinpin, who had worked at the documentation unit of the DBP’s legal department, was among the 20 employees who were given “show cause” letters by the DBP board. Industry sources said that as of last week, Pinpin had signed an affidavit to support allegations that the DBP’s P510 million loan to Delta Venture Resource Inc., a company led by former Trade Minister Roberto V. Ongpin, was anomalous.

Although the loan had long been settled ahead of maturity, it was widely believed within the DBP that some people in the new board were attempting to dig deeper into the transaction on suspicion that the paper trail would eventually lead to former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo. Many employees have not been happy with the way the investigation was being handled and were concerned that this was disrupting the organization, banking sources said.

Ongpin, a local partner and representative of the British banking giant Ashmore, which has over $50 billion in assets under management globally, has denied allegations of fronting for his friend Arroyo and challenged critics to show proof otherwise.

According to people familiar with the suicide notes left by Pinpin, the lawyer had thought he could absolve himself and save his family by signing an affidavit. “Signing the affidavit was the biggest mistake of my life,” based on excerpts of the notes circulating among DBP employees. “I exposed myself by going beyond the truth.”

Notes of sympathy circulated through text on Tuesday as soon as news about the suicide broke out, urging employees to wear black in sympathy to Pinpin and to indicate distraught over “the state of affairs in DBP.” Many indeed showed up for work wearing black on Wednesday, at the head office and some branches. Some of Pinpin’s colleagues from the legal department also wore black armbands.


Meanwhile, DBP chairman Jose Nuñez issued a statement Tuesday reporting that Pinpin had died under “unusual circumstances.”

Pinpin, who was in his early 40s, is survived by his wife and two children.

The deceased lawyer obtained his law degree from Arellano Law foundation and finished BS Economics from the University of the Philippines.

If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Center for Mental Health hotline at 0917-899-USAP (8727); (02) 7-989-USAP; or 1553 (landline to landline, toll-free).

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TAGS: Banking, Benjamin Pipin, death, Development Bank of the Philippines, government corporations, graft and corruption, investigation, Public officials, suicide
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