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2 plunder cases in tax-credit scam may be doomed

InterAksyon.com
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines -Two of the three plunder cases in connection with the P5.3-billion tax credit scam filed before the Office of the Ombudsman in 2003 are effectively doomed because of inordinate delay, a review of the paper trail by a party-list lawmaker shows.

The plunder charges were filed against the couple Faustino and Gloria Chingkoe and several finance officials as main suspects in the scam, in which 64 companies owned by the couple obtained, through fraudulent means, P5.3 billion worth of tax-credit certificates that were illegally sold to other firms which used them to cover tax obligations in the mid 1990s.

The first plunder case – Filstar Textile Industrial, et. al – was resolved by the anti-graft court recently and the case is on appeal before the Supreme Court. But according to Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teddy Casino, the Ombudsman has not acted since 2003 on the two plunder charges which involved New Alliance Thread Co. and Allstar Spinning System, two companies also allegedly used by the respondents in the scam.

The charges were filed by the defunct Special Presidential Task Force 156 as complainant. Based on documents obtained by Interaksyon.com, the Ombudsman has until now still not filed any case against New Alliance and Allstar.

On June 20, 2003, the task force filed a second plunder charge against owners and cohorts of Allstar involving P285,118,827 for violating Republic Act 3019, as amended (estafa through falsification of public documents), and for violating Presidential Decree 1829 and grave misconduct.

On September 20, 2003, the same task force filed the third plunder charge against owners and cohorts of the New Alliance involving P207,112,324.72 for violating the same laws.

Casino said the two charges are “in limbo”, and recalled the case of dismissed Manila police officer Rolando Mendoza, who had blamed the Ombudsman for its “inordinate delay” in handling his appeal of his dismissal. Mendoza seized a tourist bus at Rizal Park in Manila on August 23, 2010, and ended up dead after also shooting dead eight of the Hong Kong tourists on the bus.

Last month, President Benigno Aquino III sacked Deputy Ombudsman Emilio Gonzales III, in charge of the Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices, for alleged “inordinate delay” in the case of Mendoza. Gonzales was accused of gross neglect of duty because it took him nine months to act on Mendoza’s appeal for reinstatement. Gonzales brought his case to the SC.

On May 13, however, Acting Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro implemented Aquino’s order and told Gonzalez he has been dismissed.

Casino worried, meanwhile, that owing to official bungling in the case of the tax-credit scam suspects, the respondents—chiefly Faustino Chingkoe and wife Gloria, now believed to be in Canada--- have been able to elude justice, hurting the government’s campaign to recover lost revenue and punish the culprits of financial crimes.

“It appears that government efforts to recover lost revenues in the Chingkoe tax credit fraud cases are going nowhere,” he said.

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