• GA given special treatment – Berberabe

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    FORMER Vice President Noli de Castro on Tuesday maintained that Globe Asiatique (GA) realty Holding Corp. owned by detained businessman Delfin Lee was never given special treatment when it acquired more than P6 billion in housing loans from the Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF) or Pag-IBIG Fund in 2008.

    But this was denied by Darlene Marie Berberabe, president and chief executive officer of Pag-IBIG.

    Testifying before a Senate inquiry, de Castro, the chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), said there was nothing special about the treatment given to the GA although he admitted that they considered the project “special” based on what was presented by Lee’s company.

    But Berberabe said there may have been a “special arrangement” in the deal with GA.

    She cited the arrangement in 2009 wherein the GA was given a five-year buy back guarantee after the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between Pag-IBIG and the real estate developer.

    Berberabe said the GA was given a five-year buy back guarantee when other developers were given only two years.

    De Castro, then also the concurrent ex-officio chairman of the Pag-IBIG board, explained that since the GA project involved a township wherein the developer will also build a church, municipal hall, a high school, a market and a plaza, they expected the project to benefit the members of other working groups (OWGs).

    The former vice president was referring to the Xevera housing projects of the GA in Bacolor and Mabalacat in Pampanga.

    Pag-IBIG allowed the GA to use the agency’s Window I scheme with a buy-back guarantee of two years but later increased it to five years.

    Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito, chairman of the Senate Committee on Urban Planning, Housing Development and Resettlement, said developers allowed to use the Window 1 scheme were those who have been authorized to process and approve loan applications and even choose borrowers.

    The two-year buy back guarantee, Ejercito added, was the right of the developer to buy the account of the borrower from Pag-IBIG if the barrower failed to pay his or her loan. The developer can also resell the property to other buyers.

    But de Castro insisted that Pag-IBIG officials exercised “due diligence” before authorizing the GA to collect monthly payments from Pag-IBIG member-borrowers.

    Meanwhile, Berberabe made it clear that Rep. Miro Quimbo was no longer the head of the housing agency when it approved the full implementation of the P5-billion GA loan in June 2009.

    Berberabe said based on Pag-IBIG records, on March 2009, de Castro wrote the board of trustees to say he has accepted the resignation of Quimbo.

    She also identified former Pag-IBIG chief executive officer Jaime Fabiani and Delfin Lee as the signatories of the MOA between the agency and the GA, which was tasked to build 6,000 housing units in Xevera, Mabalacat, Pampanga.

    Ejercito said past presidents and chief executive officers of the agency, including members of the board of directors, will be summoned to the next committee hearing to shed light on the anomaly.

    The senate panel will also summon Lee.

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