POSTSCRIPT / January 31, 2008 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Unusual silence meets JPE's Ali Baba's expose

Ali Baba: Even if only half of what Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile exposed in his privilege speech last Tuesday was true, it should be shocking enough to prompt President Arroyo into firing a slew of officials and government nominees in a non-sequestered corporation and cause the filing of criminal charges all around.

Enrile outlined how more than P481 million was allegedly looted from the publicly listed and non-sequestered Philcomsat Holding Corp. over the past four years allegedly by some of its officers and nominees of the Presidential Commission on Good Government.

He was specific in whom he was accusing, what he was accusing them of, and what evidence was available — yet there was a numbing silence in media that normally lap up even trivia and non-news.

He said that the 40 persons/entities — whom he likened to the legendary Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves — engaged in plunder aided by the PCGG and the Securities and Exchange Commission that are supposed to be watchdogs.

The thieves’ tracks, he added, were covered by a P54-million fund for “PR/Media” expenses and an alleged P11 million for favorable court action.

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The Cast: It may not be fair that only PCGG chairman Camilo Sabio, facing graft charges for allegedly diverting to his personal account P10 million in government dividends from a sequestered firm, was prominently mentioned in one newspaper.

To populate the “Ali Baba” cast, we list in this limited space some of the others mentioned by Enrile in his accusatory speech together with his description of them:

Benito “Bomboy” Araneta, a PCGG nominee to the Philippine Overseas Telecommunications Corp. and the Philippine Communications Satellite Corp. (Philcomsat), worked his way into PHC, a cash cow. By way of compensation, fees, allowances, reimbursements and cash advances, he received P5.2 million including a $10,000 travel allowance. He chaired the Excom to grant a P125-million loan to Ansear, a family corporation, without collateral and only on the basis of a promissory note. He has unliquidated advances running to P3.6 million and placements supposedly made for PHC of around P67.7 million.

Enrique “Henry” Locsin, a PCGG nominee in 2004 and 2006, also worked his way into PHC. Although replaced by President Arroyo, he has stayed as director. By way of compensation, fees, allowances, reimbursements and cash advances, Locsin received P26.1 million including a yearly $10,000 travel allowance, housing and personal loans of P4.5 million and unliquidated advances of P300,000. The PHC has paid for his P180,000 hearing aid, a P275,000 laptop, still another laptop and a Pierre Cardin leather bag at a total cost of P320,000.

Ronaldo “Ronnie” Salonga, another PCGG nominee to POTC and Philcomsat, also worked his way into PHC. Before a year was over, he was fired by President Estrada together with Araneta but he stayed in PHC until 2004. Three years later, he was gifted by PHC with a car for “services rendered.”

Manuel D. Andal, CFO/treasurer of PHC, received P18 million in compensation, fees, cash advances and allowances, including a $10,000 yearly travel allowance. Among his requests for reimbursements are five to eight restaurant expenses and three to five gasoline receipts all incurred on the same day.

Julio J. Jalandoni was appointed only as nominee to Philcomsat, but also worked his way into PHC and remains there with Locsin and Andal. He received P1.6 million as compensation, fees, allowances, reimbursements and cash advances. In 2006, PHC disbursed P1.2 million as “advances to TCI,” its wholly-owned subsidiary. The check ended up in the name of Calistoga Corp. where Jalandoni owns 47.1 percent and Sylvia Jalandoni owns 50.6 percent. TCI never received the money.

Guy S. de Leon, appointed as PCGG nominee to POTC only, eventually joined Locsin Group and was elected PHC director. He received P6.5 million as compensation, fees, allowances, reimbursements and cash advances, including a 2004 Mazda Tribute and $10,000 travel allowance.

Philip Gould Brodett received P26 million from PHC by way of compensation, fees, allowances, reimbursements and cash advances including a $10,000 travel allowance. He charges PHC between P5,000 to P10,000 daily for entertainment expenses. Declares only P1 million annual income to the BIR, but has bought 10 luxury vehicles whose repair, maintenance, fuel and oil are paid by PHC. He opened a joint account in his and Manuel Nieto’s name in a bank where PHC corporate funds allegedly had found their way.

Luis K. Lokin, PHC chief legal officer, was sued by his former law firm partners for estafa. suspended by the SC from practice, faces disbarment complaints and contempt charges in court. He received P31 million as compensation, fees, allowances, reimbursements and cash advances including P2 million for a Sandiganbayan TRO and another P2 million for PR for an SC injunction.

Concepcion Poblador was made PHC chairman last year allegedly to represent the Poblador family group. The family denied authorizing her to act on its behalf as regards the Philcomsat Group of Companies since the shares are held by family-owned Elnor Investments Inc. She claims her authority from a piece of paper bearing the thumbprint of her ailing mother naming her as proxy for whatever shares are in her mother’s name (there are none). She withdrew P16.6 million in one week from a PHC bank account as reimbursement and cash advance.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of January 31, 2008)

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