Court orders arrest of 13 ex-DBP execs
Former Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas, newspaper columnist Alexander Magno and 11 other former officers of the state-owned Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) were ordered arrested on Thursday by the Sandiganbayan for complicity in granting P660 million in loans to a firm owned by businessman Roberto V. Ongpin in 2009.
The Office of the Ombudsman has claimed that the loans that DBP issued to Delta Ventures Resources Inc. (DVRI) to acquire the government financial institution’s shares in Philex Mining Corp. were behest loans. (See What Went Before)
Sto. Tomas and Magno were members of the DBP board during the Arroyo administration.
Two private individuals were also included in the arrest order, but not Ongpin, a former Marcos trade minister who posted bail five months ago.
In a resolution penned by Justice Jose Hernandez and concurred in by Justices Samuel Martires and Maria Cristina Cornejo, the antigraft court’s third division rejected the various motions filed by the accused.
The Sandiganbayan found “probable cause” to issue the warrants after it “personally, independently and judiciously examined and evaluated the resolution and order of the Office of the Ombudsman [and the] records and evidence to support the same.”
The antigraft court said it “does not find any need for additional supporting evidence solely for the purpose of determining probable cause” as it rejected moves by the defendants to delay the trial.
It said the defendants’ arguments were “matters of defense which are appropriate in the trial proper.”
Aside from Sto. Tomas, the Sandiganbayan also issued arrest warrants against Renato Velasco, Ramon Durano IV, Floro Oliveros, Benedicto Ernesto Bitonio Jr., Arturo Baliton, Perla Soleta, Warren de Guzman, Teresita Tolentino, Marissa Cayetano, Nelson Macatlang and Rodolfo Cerezo.
Velasco is a former top aide of then President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo.
DVRI president Josephine Manalo and Goldenmedia Corp. treasurer Ma. Lourdes Torres were also included in the arrest order.
A Sandiganbayan source said Sto. Tomas, Tolentino, Cayetano, Macatlang, Soleta, Oliveros, Manalo and Torres had each posted P40,000 in bail bond.
The antigraft court spared from the arrest warrant order Ongpin and 10 former DBP officials led by its then president, Reynaldo David, Franklin Velarde, Joseph Donato Pangilinan, Miguel Romero, Edgardo Garcia, Armando Samia, Rolando Geronimo, Jesus Guevarra II and Crescencia Bundoc because they posted bail five months ago.
The case stemmed from the complaint filed by DBP chair Jose Nuñez and DBP president and CEO Francisco Del Rosario Jr.
With the issuance of the arrest warrants to all accused, the trial is expected to start eight months after Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales indicted Ongpin and the former DBP officials for violations of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The David-led DBP extended two loan facilities (P150 million in April 2009 and P510 million in November 2009) to DVRI despite being undercapitalized; the value of the stocks offered by Ongpin as collateral were below the standards required by the bank and regulator; Ongpin resorted to corporate layering to get the loan; and the proceeds of the second loan were diverted for use in purchasing DBP-owned stocks in Philex Mining Corp.
The Ombudsman claimed that DVRI operated as a securities dealer without license from the Securities and Exchange Commission and that the series of stock transactions it made over a one-year period smacked of insider trading.
Two months after indicting Ongpin and the others, Morales removed Bitonio Jr., Magno, Velasco, Velarde, Garcia, Guevarra II, Bundoc, Baliton, Macatlang, Cayetano, Tolentino, Cerezo and De Guzman from the service after having been found administratively liable for grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
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