• Sandiganbayan orders DBP officials arrested

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    THE Sandiganbayan has ordered the arrest of former Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) officers and private individuals linked to the grant of a P660-million behest loan to businessman and former trade minister Roberto Ongpin.

    The anti-graft court issued a warrant of arrest for DBP officers Patricia Sto. Tomas, Alexander Magno, Ramon Durano 4th, Floro Oliveros, Renato Velasco, Benedicto Ernesto Bitonio Jr., Arturo Baliton, Perla Soleta, Warren de Guzman, Teresita Tolen­tino, Marissa Cayetano, Nelson Macatlang, and Rodolfo Cerezo.

    Delta Ventures Resources Inc. president Josephine Manalo and Goldenmedia Corp. treasurer Ma. Lourdes Torres were also ordered arrested.

    Sandiganbayan Third Division clerk of court Dennis Pulma said most of the accused posted the P40,000 bail.

    Among them were Sto. Tomas, Magno, Tolentino, Macatlang, Soleta and Oliveros. Manalo and Torres also posted bail.

    In issuing the arrest order, Associate Justices Jose Hernandez, Samuel Martires and Maria Cristina Cornejo rejected the defendants’ motions of judicial determination of probable cause.

    “This Court does not find any need of additional supporting evidence solely for the purpose of determining probable cause,” the court ruled.

    It added that the other arguments raised are “matters of defense which are appropriate in the trial proper.”

    The defendants will stand trial for allowing the release of the loan to Ongpin’s Deltaventures Resources Inc. (DVRI) even if the firm was undercapitalized.

    Ongpin used the money to purchase DBP-owned shares in Philex Ming Corp., which he later sold to Manuel V. Pangilinan.

    The Office of the Ombudsman found probable cause to indict the former DBP officials, maintaining that the loan can be classified as behest because it was under-collateralized, the project subject of the loans was not legally feasible, and there was extraordinary haste in processing and releasing the loans.

    Ongpin has insisted that the loans should not be considered behest because he paid the interest well before its maturity.

    Early this year, the Senate Committee on Banks, which conducted an inquiry into the case, recommended criminal charges against Ongpin and the bank officials. Then committee head Sen. Sergio Osmeña 3rd said the former DBP officials violated the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act by giving undue advantage to Ongpin.

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