Senate expands probe beyond Ongpin trade deal

Posted at 10/13/2011 9:06 PM | Updated as of 10/14/2011 7:57 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Senate will expand its investigation on the alleged behest loan of businessman Roberto Ongpin by including similar transactions involving the takeover of blue chip companies via loans from government financial institutions (GFIs).

The joint committee investigation will look into the involvement of the likes of Land Bank of the Philippines, the Social Security System and the Government Service Insurance System in questionable transactions, Blue Ribbon committee chairman Teofisto Guingona III said on Thursday.

Senator Serge Osmeña, who heads the committee on banks, said this will include the acquisition of controlling shares in Petron Corp. and the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco).

He did not divulge further, taking note only of an admission from former Development Bank of the Philippines President Rey David last week that it was not “standard practice” for a GFI to buy shares in the market.

“Although, they are allowed to do that, they just don’t bother [and] it just so happened in 2008, 2009, they happened to invest in Philex, Petron and Meralco. So I said: ‘Ang galing naman ninyo. You invested in the only three companies that were subject of take-overs.’ Of course they would not admit they had prior knowledge,” Osmeña said.