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Former VP not off hook in Pag-IBIG fund mess

By Angie M. Rosales
11/10/2010 [ ]
Senate probers suspect a “high-level” cover-up by some Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG) Fund officials in the P7-billion housing fund mess involving property developer Globe Asiatique Realty Holdings Corp.
“There’s (a possible) cover-up in this case. It could go up to the highest level. But I would refuse to name names at this time until we get more solid evidence and testimonies,” said Sen. Sergio
Osmeña III.
The lawmaker is not ruling out the possibility that former Vice President Noli de Castro being implicated in the loan mess since the policy was approved by Pag-IBIG Fund’s board of trustees.
De Castro served as the housing czar in the previous administration. The senator, chairman of the Senate committee on banks, financial institutions and currencies, which is handling the probe on the matter, said his panel is set to resume its probe Thursday next week.
“I intend to question the Board of Trustees on why they allowed such a dangerous policy.
“We are going to have to dot our ‘I’s and cross our ‘T’s’. Who are those really responsible for the falsification of buyers, in registering the new members etc. Why are they saying that they’re buying back the units and yet they didn’t do a thing. We want to know who’s responsible for that. It’s likely that there’s some collusion with those from Pag-IBIG,” he told reporters in an interview.
“There are documents that would show that a number of (unit owners) have defaulted in their payments and there are those alleged fake buyers and non-existent buyers who supposedly managed to secure (buy-back) payment from Globe Asiatique,” he said.
In the initial Senate inquiry last Oct. 7, Pag-IBIG officials said that out of the 9,145 accounts for the two  housing projects of Globe Asiatique, 944 borrowers were not aware they applied for Pag-IBIG loans, while 1,021 could not be located for verification while 351 borrowers have decided to withdraw their housing loans.
Pag-IBIG granted almost P7 billion to Globe Asiatique for the Xevera housing projects in Bacolor and Mabalacat, Pampanga.
“It will take about two to three hearings to determine exactly what happened, who is to blame and what remedial measures are needed or if we need to amend the existing charter of Pag-IBIG to minimize the incidents of scams like this in the future,” he said.
While the board of trustees claims that they are merely involved in policy-making, the senator said they are bound to be held responsible if proven that there were anomalies committed along the way.
“In the banking industry, that is known as a ‘moral hazard.’ You don’t open yourself up to moral hazard because likely, even in the United States, some scams may be committed,” he said.
“It’s impossible for them to overlook a scam of this magnitude. This is a giant scam. I will give them the benefit of the doubt today but it’s pretty stupid to allow that kind of policy. Moral hazard means you do not have check and balance.
Nobody is going to be cleared unless they are able to prove that they did not participate willingly. You don’t open yourself up to moral hazard,” he said.

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