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MANILA – (UPDATE: 4:40 PM) Senator Sergio Osmena III on Wednesday said former first gentleman Mike Arroyo had ordered the then-president of a state-owned bank to endorse a P660-million loan to businessman Roberto Ongpin in 2009.
"I am 110 percent convinced that FG Mike Arroyo controlled Rey David," Osmena, who chairs the Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies, said, referring to Reynaldo David, president of state-run Development Bank of the Philippines during the previous administration.
Osmena said at least two witnesses would face the committee and attest to Arroyo's involvement in negotiations for the loans.
"You always want to be sure but you want to protect your witnesses also, and their families," the senator, a member of President Benigno Aquino III’s Liberal Party, said. Osmena said the search for evidence to pin down Arroyo, David and Ongpin – a former trade minister during the Marcos administration – was difficult.
"I have not established this on paper. I have information, but I have not come up with the evidence yet. You'll not see his name. He has had smart lawyers," the senator said, referring to Arroyo.
Ongpin lawyer not aware
Ongpin's legal counsel, Rodolfo Ma. A Ponferrada, said he is not aware of Osmena's statement since he was in the hospital to attend to his wife who just gave birth. "Mr. Ongpin has always said that that [Mr. Arroyo] is not in any way involved in these loans and that these transactions are [purely] business and they are profitable," he told InterAksyon.com in a phone interview.
Osmena said the Senate committee is convinced that the loan DBP extended to Ongpin for the acquisition of a stake in Philex Mining Corp. was anomalous.
"Nothing is wrong with buying or selling Philex shares, but what we are objecting to is the use of government money to award a crony," the senator said.
He said DBP officials cannot deny that the bank waived 10 requirements when Ongpin secured the loan, including P150 million in April 2009 and P510 million thereafter. Osmena said the usual practice is to waive at most two requirements.
He said DBP also allowed the use of shares in Philweb Corp. as collateral for the loans – a practice prohibited by the country’s banking laws.
The senator said the committee is drafting a report, adding that another set of loans involving the Metro Rail Transit would be discussed in August. In this regard, the committee would look into the liability of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.
For its part, the BSP is awaiting the committee report.
"The BSP policy is the directors and officers of any bank should always be fit and proper. There are standards. In the ultimate and in general, if there is an officer that is found not fit and proper, the BSP may initiate disqualification from the board," said Deputy Gov. Nestor Espenilla Jr.
If David were shown guilty of the accusations made during the Senate committee hearings, then he would have to be barred from joining a board of any bank, Espenilla said.
"On the basis of facts and inquiries not just with us, but SEC and the Office of the Ombudsman, we will have to appreciate all these. We await the findings as well," he said. With Likha Cuevas-Miel, InterAksyon.com
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