Graft charges vs Ongpin, ex-DBP execs junked

Posted at 05/28/14 7:23 PM

MANILA – The Sandiganbayan has dismissed the graft charges filed against businessman and former Trade and Industry Minister Roberto Ongpin, former Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) president Reynaldo David, and several DBP officers in relation to a 2009 loan transaction.

The Sandiganbayan Special 3rd Division voted 3-2 on Wednesday to dismiss two counts of graft charges filed against the respondents for lack of basis.

"This case should have been dismissed at the preliminary investigation stage. Pressures of public opinion however dictate that in order to avoid the brunt and pain of criticism it would be most convenient to pass unto the Court the responsibility to dismiss these cases," the court said.

Aside from Ongpin, private defendants were DVRI president Josephine Manalo and DVRI treasurer Ma. Lourdes Torres.

Aside from David, other DBP officials named as defendants were board chairperson Patricia Sto. Tomas; board directors Alexander Magno, Ramon Durano IV, Floro Oliveros and Renato Velasco; executive vice president Benedicto Ernesto Bitonio Jr.; vice president and Metro Manila Marketing Center head Arturo Baliton; senior vice president Perla Soleta, assistant managers Rodolfo Cerezo and Warren de Guzman; senior asst. vice president Teresita Tolentino; chief accounts management specialist Marissa Cayetano; and branch banking sector manager Nelson Macatlang.

The case stemmed from a criminal complaint filed before the Office of the Ombudsman by DBP.

The complaint alleged that the DBP extended "behest loans" to Ongpin's company Deltaventures Resources Inc. (DVRI) totaling P660 million in 2009.

Ongpin later bought 50 million shares of Philex Mining Co. from DBP for P637.5 million or P12.75 per share.

He then sold the shares for P21 a share to Philex Chairman Manuel Pangilinan less than a month later.

The DBP board claimed the bank could have made P42.4 million more if it had sold the stake directly instead of selling it to Ongpin.

Ongpin pleaded not guilty to the graft charges.

"Obviously, I am happy with this development. This strengthens my belief in the integrity of the judicial process in this country,” Ongpin said.