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Ongpin's Inconsistency Galore

(The article that Manila Standard suppressed last Jan 30,2013)

       Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Deputy Governor Nestor A. Espenilla ("Espenilla") must have filed with the Office of the Ombudsman by now his counter-affidavit to the Complaint-Affidavit of Roberto. Ongpin ("Ongpin"). Ongpin accused him of violation Section 3(e) of the Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft And Corrupt Practices Act.

       Ongpin charges, in his Complaint-Affidavit, that Espenilla, as Acting Chairman of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) and Officer in Charge of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on 14 November, 2012, caused him and his companies undue injury.

       Such "undue injury", argues Ongpin, was the result of Espenilla's signing AMLC Resolution No. 107, series of 2012, that authorized the filing ex parte of a petition, pursuant to R.A.No. 10167, with the Court of Appeals to freeze Ongpin's bank accounts. The case was docketed as C.A. GR SP No. AMLC-00066.

       The Court of Appeals on 06 December 2012 issued an Order freezing 160 accounts belonging to around 30 persons, including Ongpin's for a period of 20 days. The order was publicized in the broad sheets.

       The market prices of the shares of the six companies of which Ongpin was principal shareholder and/or principal executive officer, after the publication, dropped "like a rock". There being, according to Ongpin, no other significant development that could have caused the fall of his shares, "…the blame", says he, "lies squarely at the doorstep of Espenilla (for signing the AMLC Resolution)…"

       And since the AMLC Resolution No. 107, issued in November, allegedly "ran counter to the position which he (Espenilla) earlier took and declared under oath" during the 14 October 2011 joint hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee and the Committee on Banks and Financial Institutions, Espenilla's act of signing Resolution No. 107, maintains Ongpin, was done in bad faith and obvious bias against him and his companies. It was thus, according to Ongpin, "the proximate cause of undue injury" to them.

       I leave it to Espenilla's legal defense to articulate in details his response to Ongpin's accusations of inconsistency.

       I submit, however, that, ironically, Ongpin himself had much earlier inconsistent statements under oath. I fear some naughty guy just might be tempted to sue Ongpin for perjury for his own inconsistent testimony given so openly in the very same day.

       That day was 14 November 2011. In the transcripts it appears that in the course of his opening statement, Ongpin touched on the accusation that there must have been a "behestor" who had ordered the Development Bank of the Philippines to grant him his questioned loans. This implication he described as "the most unkindest cut of all," without Ongpin making any attribution for the arresting double superlative adjective. None, of course, was needed, since the phrase, which was placed on the lips of Mark Anthony as he was delivering his funeral oration, is one of the most famous lines in William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.

       After stressing that he had "organized investment banking deals, investment banking transactions far in excess of the P660 million I borrowed from DBP" – an assertion he repeated in his Complaint-Affidavit against Espenilla--, Ongpin tooted:

       "I should say at this juncture that other than these loans from DBP, I have never borrowed from any government financial institution and after this most unpleasant episode, certainly never will in the future."

       Senator Sergio R. Osmenia III, Chairman of the Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies asked whether Ongpin, by referring to himself, meant himself as well as corporations that Ongpin managed at a sizeable amount of ownership in. Ongpin responded, "I meant, Your Honor, me personally and companies which I owned or controlled."

       Osmena, though not a lawyer, nevertheless did the lawyerly act of laying the basis. He asked Ongpin if he was a stockholder of Global 5000. Ongpin, tooting once more, said, "I was Your Honor. I was an original incorporator and shareholder. I owned one-third , 33 percent."

       Alas and alack, the fish was caught by its mouth. The Global 5000 transactions, for a full understanding, require another series of column on its own right. Suffice it to say at this time that the complicated arrangement at its core did involve a borrowing by Global 5000 from the Social Security System, a government financial institution. The other two-thirds of the company were, as admitted by Ongpin, owned by passive shareholders.

       As a consequence, Ongpin had eventually, by way of damage control, to refine his answer. He had to say, "I would like to clarify that when I said 'I have never borrowed from a financial- government financial institution' and I define that to mean either personally or companies which I own or companies of which I was the majority stockholder."

       He continued, "In the case of Global 5000, I own only one-third of it. The other two shareholders were…"

       Eating a humble pie, Ongoing had to further concede, on the Global 2000 transactions, "One might infer that there was an implied borrowing but it was not a formal borrowing…" A truly Jesuitical response from a Jesuit product.

       Osmena then shot a second arrow that landed straight into Ongpin's heart. He asked, "Now, Mr. Ongpin, did Alpha Land take out any loan or series of loan from DBP?" Alpha Land is one of Ongpin's companies whose shares allegedly lost value, according to Ongpin, as a result of Espenilla's signing of AMLC Resolution No. 107.

       Ongpin, this time, did not hem and haw. He simply said, "Yes, Your honors." At some other time, I shall talk about the Alpha Land loan, from DBP and its syndication partners.

       For now, it must be pointed out that Ongpin, to his credit, told the truth when he had to. That's much more that what we can say of some others who, at this, may or may not (or no longer) be his friends.

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