GUILTY by association.
This is how Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF) or Pag-IBIG Fund President and Chief Operating Officer Darlene Berberabe described Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th’s allegation that four real estate developers have been granted loans because of their connection to Vice President Jejomar Binay.
At the resumption of the Senate blue ribbon sub-committee hearing on alleged anomalies involving the Vice President, Bernabeon Monday maintained that development loans granted by Pag-IBIG to 30 real estate developers are all above board, including the four mentioned by Trillanes.
In fact, she said it was only during the time of Binay, as chairman of Pag-IBIG, that the agency was able to cut down by almost 80 percent the annual developmental loans granted to developers.
Trillanes in a presentation during the hearing bared that Pag-IBIG granted a total of P134-million developmental loans to four developers whose owners or incorporators are connected to the Vice President namely Prosperidad Real Development Inc., Major Homes Inc., Bumbaran Development Corporation and Astra Realty Corporation
The senator claimed that Prosperidad Real Development which was extended a P40- million loan, has former congressman Rodolfo Plaza as chairman while his wife Shirley Marie Plaza is vice president.
Mrs. Plaza is reportedly a consultant at the Office of the Vice President.
Major Homes has Alphaland President Mario Oreta, Noble Care president Gilberto Garcia and Ireneo Sioson, corporate secretary of Noble Care, as incorporators.
Alphaland and Noble Care were dragged in the Boy Scouts of the Philippines land deal.
Trillanes claimed Oreta was also the top campaign donor of the Vice President’s daughter, Sen. Nancy Binay.
Meanwhile, Bumbaran Development Corporation, which was granted a P14-million loan,has former Quezon City Mayor Brigido “Jun” Simon Jr, as one of its incorporators. Simon was an original member of PDP-Laban that Binay once headed.
According to Trillanes, Simon was Binay’s campaign coordinator in Mindanao in the 2010 elections.
Astra Realty Corporation, which is headed by Nora Bitong, a former executive of the Jaka Group of Companies, of detained Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile was able to get P60 million in loan from Pag-IBIG.
Trillanes said his presentation confirmed his earlier claims that Binay has been giving out developmental loans to his friends and allies who are in the real estate business.
The senator also hit Berberabe for allowing Pag-IBIG to be used as a tool for abuse and corruption.
“Can we request COA [Commission on Audit] to do a special audit on the developmental loans issued by Pag-IBIG during the term of Atty. Berberabe, June 2010 to present?” Trillanes said during the hearing.
But Bernabe in an interview after the hearing maintained that there was nothing irregular with the granting of loans to the developers, saying there was also no proof that the Vice President used the development loans as a mechanism supposedly to favor his allies.
She noted that if the Vice President really wants to use the loans as instrumens to reward his allies he should have granted the loans in bulk or in bigger amounts.
In fact, the Vice President upon taking over as chairman of Pag-IBIG Fund was able to cut down to P200 million the average development loans approved annually.
According to Berberabe, Pag-IBIG Fund, during the previous administration has been granting an average of P1 billion annually for six years.
“Vice President Binay was able cut the loans by 80 percent. Now if he really wants to use these loans to reward his allies, he should have retained or even increased the amount of loans granted,” she explained.
The P220-million development loans are not only for the four developers but for the 30 developers that applied for it.
Berberabe said she will not allow Pag-IBIG Fund to be used as an instrument of abuse and she would not be forced to sign a contact that she thinks is wrong because the Vice President is not after her position.
The Vice President, she added, neither used his position to ask her for favors nor asked her to grant loans to a particular developer.
The Court of Appeals Sixth Division has submitted for resolution a petition filed by Makati City Mayor Erwin Jejomar “Junjun” Binay to cite Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd and Makati Vice Mayor Romulo “Kid” Pena for contempt.
The appellate court continued hearing the contempt petition on Monday.
The charges pertain to the alleged defiance of the respondents on the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Court of Appeals 6th Division on March 16, 2015 enjoining the implementation of the preventive suspension order imposed by the Ombudsman against Mayor Binay.
WITH JOMAR CANLAS