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Big mess at DBP


The apparent suicide of lawyer Benjamin Pinpin opened a can of worms involving officials at the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).  It’s turning out that there’s more to it than Pinpin taking his own life, which could shake the banking institution to its foundation.

According to police investigation, Pinpin left suicide notes which detailed his “fears and concerns” over a sworn statement that he was seemingly pressured – or coerced — to sign.  “He feared that he will be prosecuted,” said an investigator assigned to the case.  There were also reports that Pinpin was upset when he found out that he was about to be investigated about a questionable P660-million loan to Roberto V. Ongpin’s Delta Ventures Resources Inc. (DVRI) in May 2009 during the Arroyo administration. Ongpin used the money to finance his acquisition of shares in Philix Mining Corp.  He then sold the shares to business tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan after which he repaid his loan to DBP leaving him with a huge profit.

With the speed of how the humongous loan was processed, approved, and delivered to Ongpin in just one day makes one wonder what kind of “padulas” (grease) did Ongpin use to get the loan?  Like they say, “Grease makes the wheels go faster.”

Since Pinpin is no longer around to answer these questions, the heat is now on DBP Chairman Jose “Pepo” Nunez to provide answers to a lot of questions. And this is where it’s going to get nasty.  DBP chief legal counsel Benilda Tejada turned over to investigators the documents left by Pinpin in the hotel room where he committed suicide.  She believes that there is “more deeper reason” why Pinpin committed suicide.

Apparently, an investigation has been going on at DBP, which is looking at some questionable transactions the bank made during the Arroyo administration.  Last May, several DBP employees – which included Pinpin – received a “show-cause” letter from Nunez asking them to state under oath their involvement in the DVRI loan. On July 27, 2011, Pinpin signed an affidavit, which detailed the actions he took in approving the loan to DVRI.

He must have regretted signing it because in the suicide note to his wife, he said: “I made this biggest mistake of my life last week. I shouldn’t have submitted [the affidavit]. I should have followed my heart. My mind was confused. I don’t want to live with the thought that I turned my back [on] the people who trust me.”

Then he said, “By submitting that affidavit, I exposed myself to going beyond the truth.”  Did he mean that he was forced to sign a lie, which implicated some people who might not have been complicit to the questionable DVRI loan?  And who were these people whom he betrayed by “going beyond the truth”?

It is interesting to note that prior to Nunez’s appointment as DBP chairman by President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III, business mogul “Salvador “Buddy” Zamora II employed him as chief financial officer in one of his companies.  And guess what?  Zamora was a major, major campaign contributor to P-Noy’s presidential campaign in 2010.

Recently, Zamora’s name was mentioned in the news when it was alleged that he was willing to “donate” P50 million of his own money to entice Virgilio “Garci” Garciliano into testifying on the election cheating in the 2004 elections.

There is nothing wrong with that.  But… But what is interesting to know is that recently it was reported in the news that DBP’s corporate banking group had refused to process a loan that was being arranged for Zamora, who is alleged to have racked up a P3-billion debt with DBP.  Could it be that his former boss not getting a loan may have triggered Nunez’s erratic behavior?

Indeed, there are a lot of questions that are unanswered.  Pinpin’s untimely demise might help unravel the mystery and provide the answers.

By Perry Diaz

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