Noli de Castro liable in Pag-Ibig mess

Noli de Castro liable in Pag-Ibig mess—Sen. Serge Osmeña III

2:34 am | Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Members of the previous board of the Home Development Mutual Fund, also known as Pag-Ibig Fund, led by then Vice President Noli de Castro could be liable for the questionable multibillion-peso loans obtained by Globe Asiatique Realty Holdings Corp.

Sen. Serge Osmeña III said the housing firm owned by businessman Delfin Lee would have been unable to obtain such a huge loan without bribing somebody.

“You know, there is always the bribe-giver and the bribe-taker. How (else) would Delfin Lee have acquired the P12-billion loan?” Osmeña said over the weekend.

Osmeña said it was the members of the board of Pag-Ibig Fund under De Castro, who approved the multibillion-peso loan releases to Globe Asiatique.

Last week, the justice department approved the filing of a syndicated estafa case against Lee, his son and three associates. Syndicated estafa, a nonbailable offense, is punishable by life imprisonment.

The case stems from the allegedly anomalous loans granted by Pag-Ibig Fund to “ghosts borrowers” who had allegedly bought properties from Lee’s Globe Asiatique housing projects in Pampanga province.

The Department of Justice also ordered the indictment of Lee’s son Dexter Lee, Globe Asiatique officers Christina Sagun and Cristina Salagan and Pag-Ibig Fund official Alex Alvarez.

Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Theodore Villanueva referred to the Office of the Ombudsman for “appropriate investigation” former Pag-Ibig Fund executives Romero Quimbo, Jaime Fabian, Tessie Gonzales, Rafael Albano and Vilma Flores for possible violation of the antigraft law.

While Osmeña admitted there was no direct evidence against De Castro, the agency approved the questioned housing deal with Globe Asiatique while the latter was chair of Pag-Ibig Fund.

However, Osmeña said Pag-Ibig would not release the P12 billion to the real estate firm without board approval.

“Nobody said, ‘I paid Noli.’…but it certainly would not have been released without some shenanigans from the higher ups… (De Castro) was chairman, he had certain responsibilities. Maybe he was absent. We don’t know,” the senator said.

Osmeña said the decision whether to include De Castro in the charge sheet would be “up to the evidence that is in the hands of the National Bureau of Investigation” to which he turned over documents perused by Senate probers.

Charge sheet

The fact that he was not included in the charge sheet proved that he had nothing to do with the alleged anomalous loan transactions, De Castro said on Monday.

He said he was not aware of the alleged bribery in the Pag-Ibig board in exchange for the approval of Globe Asiatique loans.

De Castro said the board merely met to approve policies upon the recommendation of the Pag-Ibig management.

He said he was not sure whether the loan granted to Globe Asiatique was P12 billion since he read in other reports that it was only P6 billion.

Previously, Vice President Jejomar C. Binay, concurrent chair of Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, said the government had a very strong case against Globe Asiatique officers.

Asked about Osmeña’s allegations, the Office of the Vice President said “that would be up to the Ombudsman to determine.”

Binay, also the government’s housing czar, is “hopeful the Ombudsman would act on the case soon.”

“All relevant documents were subpoenaed by the Ombudsman last year and Pag-Ibig extended its full cooperation,” said Joey Salgado, Binay’s media officer.

Reports from Cathy C. Yamsuan and Jerry Esplanada
Castro liable in Pag-Ibig mess—Sen. Serge Osmeña III.

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