Plunder raps filed vs. 2 HGC presidents

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Plunder and graft charges were filed against Home Guarantee Corporation (HGC) President Manuel Sanchez and former President Gonzalo Benjamin Bongolan at the Office of the Ombudsman for alleged mismanagement of the agency’s finances causing losses amounting to P1.899 billion from 2009 to 2011.

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Alan Paguia, former defense counsel of former president Joseph Estrada, lodged the criminal complaint. He accused the two government officials of causing huge financial losses in the agency and giving “concerned party-beneficiaries unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.”

The complaint was based on separate Commission on Audit (COA) reports allegedly detailing various irregularities in the HGC, a government-owned and -controlled corporation tasked to operate a credit guaranty program to promote home ownership.

Sanchez, former representative of the first district of Rizal province, was removed from his post by the House Electoral Tribunal in 1994 for allegedly faking his citizenship.

He was appointed to the HGC by President Aquino on September 17, 2010 replacing Bongolan who is now vice president of Philippine Commercial Capital Inc. (PCCI).

“I was compelled to file this case because I was worried that these abuses happening at the HGC may end up forgotten and neglected. Everyone seemed focused on the abuses of the pork barrel fund to the neglect of other public officials also found by the COA to have committed grave abuse of discretion and authority for their personal gain,” Paguia said in a statement after filing the complaint.

“As an advocate of the rule of law, it is my moral duty to take to task government officials for their abuse of the public trust and confidence inherent in their positions,” he added.

“The HGC grossly diverted from its mandated tasks and, as COA auditors found possibly to their great horror and distress, billions of money were squandered on deals and expenses that solely benefited its top officials,” Paguia explained.

Citing COA reports, he listed 13 specific acts of alleged abuses committed by Sanchez in his capacity as HGC president beginning in 2010 and 10 specific violations of the law allegedly committed by Bongolan while he was HGC head in 2009.

On the part of Bongolan, COA auditors took him to task for, among others, increasing HGC’s investments in private shares of stocks and bonds from P3 million to P734 million contrary to Section 22 of Republic Act 8763 and the provisions of the 2009 General Appropriations Act.

He then allegedly used a portion of the interest to reward himself and other HGC officials some P9.349 million in “monetary incentive award” (MIA) and authorized the use of P22.287 million for a motor vehicle purchase plan for its top officials.

Paguia said the COA reports also questioned and disallowed more than P415 million disbursed by the HGC for its retirement plan for being contrary to Republic Act 4968 or the “Teves Retirement Law.”

The HGC also allegedly lost some P247 million over the sale of three so-called APEC villas and 52 quadruplex units when these were sold for a measly P41.5 million and P48 million, respectively.

Under Bongolan, the HGC also allegedly piled up losses of more than P9.8 billion as of 2009 “thereby affecting the corporation’s financial condition, casting doubt on its financial capability to operate . . . and creating a financial burden to the national government.

In the case of Sanchez, HGC’s accumulated deficit ballooned to P12.771 billion as of 2011 and “cast doubt on its ability to provide a viable shelter program for the homeless and under privileged sectors of society.”

According to the COA report, the HGC’s liabilities of more than P6.1 billion also exceeded its current assets of P3.174 billion by some P2.9 billion by the end of 2011.

COA also questioned the HGC retirement plan (Early Separation Incentive Program) approved by Sanchez totalling some P120.73 million, saying it violated RA 4968.

Paguia also cited COA findings that titles of the HGC’s acquired assets valued at more than P7 billion were not consolidated in the name of the HGC “thereby depriving the HGC of the opportunity to sell and recover from these properties.”

The HGC under Sanchez allegedly failed to protect and preserve some 11,903 housing units “resulting in further destruction, fast deterioration and further loss of possible income due to illegal occupants.”

Paguia urged Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales to “order the investigation of respondents . . . to determine whether or not their respective acts and omissions as individual HGC presidents or public officers constitute probable cause for indictment under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and the Anti-Plunder Law.”

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