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Yasay’s Fact-Challenged Reaction

(Article published in the Jun 1,2011 issue of Manila Standard Today) 

It has been my practice all these over ten years of weekly column writing to publish, within the constraints of space and other reasonable bounds, the reactions sent to me by my readers. Especially those disagreeing with me irrespective of how disagreeable they may be.

Accordingly, I reproduce herein the substantive parts of the e-mail that I received from Mr. Perfecto Yasay, alleged spokesman of Banco Filipino, who reacted to my column last week on Hon. Sergio Apostol’s impressive interrogation skills exhibited during the hearing of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries last May 17.

Mr. Yasay wrote thus:

“I do not intend to correct the statements made in the May 17 hearing of the House Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries which are clearly the opinions of the persons who expressed them. I question however your objectivity in presenting these statements in the interest of accuracy and fairness and it appears, that as a self-professed Trust Guru, you cannot be trusted on this matter. Clearly your biased objective was to further incite the depositors against Banco Filipino in order to deflect the Committtee's  and the public's focus on the legality of the summary closure of Banco Filipino and placing it under receivership, to support the insidious criminal plot of the BSP of ruining the bank and blame it on its management. 


The probing questions of the Committee's chairman, Rep. Sergio Apostol was (sic) the offshoot of revelations in the hearing that, in carrying out its functions as receiver PDIC  took immediate steps of terminating the staff and employees of the bank and canceling their wages and benefits without regard to the requirements in the Labor Code or of due process. As Receiver its duty is first to determine whether Banco Filipino is solvent or can continue in business with safety to its depositors, creditors and the general public. Thus, its hasty action against Banco Filipino employees manifested a predisposition, if not a premeditated intention, to permanently close the bank and liquidate its assets in violation of the law.

As to what happened to the bank employees' retirement fund in deposit with Banco Filipino is an alarming concern that led to the question of Rep. Apostol. The response of Ms. Cristina Orbeta pertained to the role of the PDIC as Insurer of deposit liabilities, which is not disputed, as distinguished from the duties of PDIC as Receiver of Banco Filipino. Simply put, the immediate job of Receiver is first to preserve the assets of the Bank, which unquestionably include its employees, and not to prematurely terminate or dispose of them. Its responsiblitiy (sic) as Insurer is to swiftly pay the allowable desposit (sic) liabilities demanded by depositors, including that of the Retirement Trust Fund.
The Committee wanted to know, from the viewpoint of the Receiver, whether its power to terminate the staff and employees of the bank could be done before a finding that Banco Filipino cannot be rehabilitated or that its assets should be liquidated. Corollarily, it wanted to know what would happen if the bank is thereafter allowed to resume business under receivership or if the closure of the bank is later declared illegal by the Court, and their effect on the terminated employees and their benefits?
For this reason, even your conclusion, that the Banco Filipino Retirement Fund is gone, is outright wrong and malicious.”

As in previous occasions, I ignore, like the idle wind that I heed not, ad hominems and remarks on my objectivity and the branding of my conclusions as “outright wrong and malicious.”  Neither do I, nor anybody, need to accept Mr. Yasay’s version of why and how Hon. Sergio Apostol extracted the whereabouts, or lack thereof, of the BF Employees Retirement Fund.  The transcript of the recording of what actually transpired during the Committee hearings is open for the reading of anyone who wishes to see how masterfully Congressman Apostol did it.

I focus, instead, on the heart of Mr. Yasay’s fact- challenged reaction. Mr. Yasay would like people to believe that “PDIC  took immediate steps of terminating the staff and employees of the bank and canceling (sic) their wages and benefits without regard to the requirements in the Labor Code or of due process.”  He takes this as a manifestation of “a predisposition, if not a premeditated intention, to permanently close the bank and liquidate its assets in violation of the law.” 

Perfectly wrong facts, Mr. Yasay.  PDIC, although it had power to do so under Section 10 of its charter, did not terminate (and as of the time of this writing, has not terminated any of) the employees of BF.  Following its standard operating procedure, PDIC had only suspended the employees Banco Filipino and, in fact, had asked those needed for the turnover to keep on working. This is very clear from transcript. With the factual premise wrong, logically, so is the gratuitous conclusion.

But, let’s go beyond logic and get to the facts:  Where really is the BF Employees Retirement Fund right now? 

Is it part of the cash assets found in the bank which cash upon the bank’s closure amounted to only less than Php 300 million cash? Or is it amongst the few remaining hundred millions in the form of securities, including preferred shares in Banco Filipino itself?  

Or is the retirement fund of the employees buried in real estate which was booked at Php 3 billion?

Or is it part of the almost Php13 billion in accumulated losses which Banco Filipino booked, under Mr. Yasay’s watch as “assets”, a most outrageous mockery of accounting principles? 

Or was the BF Employees Retirement Fund part of the fees that were paid to Mr. Yasay and his bunch of lawyers, which “legal” fees in 2010 alone, allegedly amounted to more than Php 100 million?

Facts, Mr. Yasay.  What we need are facts, just facts.