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Ex-VP not yet off the hook—Binay

09/02/2011 [ ]

Former Vice President Noli De Castro is not yet off the hook as he could still face charges for authorizing questionable multibillion-peso loans to property developer Globe Asiatique (GA), Vice President Jejomar Binay said yesterday.

Binay added while the investigation into the GA scandal did not uncover any direct evidence against De Castro to justify his inclusion in the syndicated estafa case, it does not mean that the former Vice President has been cleared.

“We cannot speculate on the outcome of the case. The investigation is not yet over,” Binay told a press briefing as he appealed to those who

have direct evidence that could link De Castro to the scandal “to come out in the open.”

“Please come forward and help us gather direct evidence,” he said.

The scandal involved anomalous loans acquired by GA from Pag-IBIG Fund, which was headed concurrently by De Castro when he was Vice President, by allegedly using “ghost” borrowers and spurious documents, resulting in P6.65 billion in losses for the state-run housing fund agency.

Close to 10,000 applicants, mostly with incomplete documents while some were reportedly not genuine home buyers, were able to easily avail of loans for housing units developed by the GA in Mabalacat, Pampanga.

De Castro, who returned to his old job as a broadcaster after a 10-year government stint, denied any wrongdoing, saying construction of the housing units were already completed by GA using its own fund before these were sold to Pag-IBIG members.

The DoJ approved last week the filing of a syndicated estafa case against GA owner Delfin Lee, his son Dexter and three other GA employees, and an official of Pag-IBIG Fund. Syndicated estafa is a non-bailable offense and punishable by life imprisonment.

Binay said former and current Pag-IBIG officials are subject to investigation by the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman initiated a fact-finding investigation into the GA scandal during the latter part of 2010, but has yet to release its findings.

Binay, now the current government housing czar, directed Pag-IBIG to cooperate fully with the Ombudsman.

Binay also said the temporary restraining order issued by the Pasig Regional Trial Court Branch 167 last August 26 pertains to another case filed by home owners against Lee. The case stemmed from the alleged “double sale” of properties in Lee’s Xevera Homes project in Pampanga.

He said the TRO does not affect the filing of the syndicated estafa case against Lee and several others based on the recommendation of the DoJ. Michaela P. del Callar

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