• Probe oil officials for graft, govt urged

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    A former ranking official of PNOC Exploration Corp. (PNOC-EC), the oil and gas arm of state-owned Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC), has urged the government to investigate the firm’s current officials for alleged graft and corrupt practices.

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    Crismel Verano, former chairman of PNOC-EC, asked President Benigno Aquino 3rd and Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla to order a thorough investigation of PNOC president Antonio Cailao and former PNOC Exploration president (now board member) Rafael del Pilar.

    Verano said Cailao and del Pilar have committed illegal acts in violation of Republic Act (RA) 3019 based on the Audit Reports on the Revenue Cycle of Coal Trading for the years 2008 and 2009 conducted by Commission on Audit (COA) on May 7, 2010.

    He pointed out that the two oil officials allowed “fly-by-night companies to be utilized to defraud the government of millions of pesos.”

    When the Supreme Court (SC) junked Verano’s first case against Cailao, he filed a new complaint against the latter at the Office of the Ombudsman, accusing Cailao of engaging in and earning from coal transactions in 2009 at the expense of the government.

    Verano said he is set to appeal the decision of the High Court.

    In an eight-page complaint filed before the Ombudsman in November last year, he alleged that the PNOC and PNOC-EC officials “use(d) or abuse(d) their former positions during their incumbency and transacted with Trans-National Paper Corp., a private corporation.”

    Verano said Cailao and del Pilar allowed Trans-National to purchase coals from them and accepted mere checks as payment amounting to P6.5 million, which later bounced putting the government at a disadvantage.

    “Respondents were negligent because they did not ensure the credibility and credit-worthiness of Trans-National and simply allowed the transaction with the latter without even requiring the submission of pertinent documentary requirements,” he added.

    Verano pointed out that the officials were in violation of their basic duty of exercising supervision of the two companies and ensuring that no bogus buyers were involved in a government transaction.

    The respondents, he said, were given the duty to oversee that all their transactions should be beneficial to the government and at the least, incur no losses.

    Verano alleged in his previous petition that Cailao, del Pilar and the other respondents were able to amass some P122 million of ill-gotten wealth from PNOC’s coal transactions through “sophisticated schemes and hidden commissions.”

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