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Cracks in DBP’s defensive wall

(Article published in the Dec 7,2011 issue of Manila Standard Today) 

November 14 which was when, at the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee’s and Committee on Banks’ joint hearing on Development Bank of the Philippines’ questionable transactions subject of Senate Resolution No. 555 filed by Senator Panfilo Lacson, former DBP President Rey David was left by his erstwhile friend Roberto Ongpin to fend for himself, was not David’s first taste of abandonment. 

Earlier, when his fellow members of the former DBP Board filed their respective (though not necessarily respectable in all aspects) counter-affidavits as respondents in the case filed before the Ombudsman, Rey David must have felt, to use his friend Ongpin’s quote from Julius Cesar, “the most unkindest cut of all”.  Five illustrious members of the former board, led by Patricia Sto. Tomas, filed their own separate responses to the complaint.   And, as if twisting the knife as it dove in, Sto. Tomas et al, filed their response to the complaint jointly and separately from David’s.

The only co-respondent former board member who joined David in his counter-affidavit was, not surprisingly, Miguel Romero.  It was Miguel Romero who was very supportive, of what Rey David had appeared to have accomplished with the now questioned transactions with Ongpin with respect to Philex shares.  According to reliable sources, during the BDP board meeting of December 9, 2009, after “they had done the deed” and as David was narrating how the “coup” was effected, resulting in big gains for the bank, Romero was all praises for David.
 










     

When David explained how at the end of October, DBP sold 10,000 shares at Php11.50 what it acquired for an average cost of Php5.89, he turned to Romero for confirmation, saying “I think you were there at that time”, Romero basking in the glory said “yes.”  David continued his narration and when he reached the point where DBP on December 2 entered into an agreement with Manny Pangilinan for the sale of Philex shares at Php21 per, grossing for the bank Php1.246 billion, Romero interjected, “Fantastic”.  After David had laid out Pangilinan’s payment terms, ending with “there’s all gravy to us,”, Romero responded, “Of course.” And in the course of David’s wrapping up the trophies of the transactions ending with the sale to Two Rivers of DVRI’s remaining Philex shares, Romero, like Anthony offering Cesar at the feast of the Lupercal, a kingly crown three times, Romero said, in succession interrupting David three times, (1) “Congratulations”, (2) “Wow, magaling, Congratulations” and (3) “Magaling up to now.  At magaling ka rin. Congratulations to our President.” 

 In contrast to Romero, Patricia A. Sto. Tomas, Alexander R. Magno, Ramon R. Durano IV, Renato S. Velasco and Franklin M. Velarde, filed their own joint counter-affidavit, thereby sending a subliminal message that, by that very act, they were not hitching their wagon to the star of David; they were going to mount their own defense.

They then reinforced this disjoinder by getting their own lawyer,  the firm of Desierto Ammuyutan Purisima and Desierto Law Firm,  different from the lawyer that represented David and Romero which was M.M. Lazaro & Associates.  While both Desierto and Lazaro at sometime in their stint with the government served under former presidents, Manuel Lazaro is known to have served under Ferdinand Marcos and Aniano Desierto, for his part, served under Fidel V. Ramos.  In addition, Desierto when he retired from the service, was head of the Office of the Ombudsman before whom the case is pending.

By his own declaration, Desierto is also the lawyer for “several of the other respondents” and for that reason, in the Sto. Tomas et al counter-affidavit, manifested that “the legal arguments presented in the two joint Counter-affidavits of these other respondents prepared with the active assistance of the same counsel, insofar as relevant, are herein incorporated by restatement.”  This tweaks the message of separation from the fate of David by this assertion of contrasting unity of legal positions taken between the David-Romero faction and Sto. Tomas and her troop. 

The disconnect, however, went beyond the identity of advocates.  Certain discrepancies, even in the most basic of details, objective and easily verifiable, are apparent in their version.  For instance, on the question of where was the first Php150 million loan of Delta Ventures Resources, Inc. (DVRI) from DBP filed? At the head office? Or at the DBP Baguio Branch?

David-Romero counter-affidavit categorically states, in par. 4, “DVRI applied with the Baguio DBP Branch for a credit line facility to fund the firm’s working capital and trading activities.”  The Sto. Tomas et. al counter-affidavit, in par. 17, on the contrary says, “...DVRI applied for a loan in the amount of Php 150 Million with DBP to finance its working capital...the record show that this loan proposal was referred to the DBP’s Branch Banking Sector (BBS) from the Office of the DBP President” and supported this allegation with a copy of the Memorandum dated 15 February 2011 from BBS’s Sector Head and Executive Vice President, Jesus Guevara II replying to the “Audit Issues and Concerns Re: DVRI Loans”. 

        There are other, and more substantial and worrying contradictions, between the David-Romero defensive position and that taken by Sto. Tomas and company, which in due time and at more appropriate venues, will be fully ventilated and, hopefully explained away.  The point, however, is that there are fissures in what was thought to be a DBP monolith.  And only time will tell how deep, damaging and damning those fissures are.

     

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