Ex-SSS chair Thelmo Cunanan passes away

Posted at 01/18/11 4:41 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Former pension fund chair Thelmo Yllano Cunanan succumbed to cancer on January 16, 2011, his family said on Tuesday.

Cunanan was 72.

He was confined at Fuda Cancer Hospital in Guangzhou, China for treatment.

He is the husband of former Inquirer columnist Belinda Olivares-Cunanan and father of Manila Times columnist Buddy Cunanan.

Cunanan retired from the Armed Forces of the Philippines in 1994 with a rank of Lieutenant General. He graduated from the Philippine Military Academy (batch 1957) and earned a Military Art and Engineering degree from West Point in New York.

He was later appointed by former President Fidel V. Ramos, himself a graduate of West Point, as the country's ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia from 1995 to 1999. During that period, the civil war-ravaged nation was still picking itself up from the ruins of the Pol pot-led genocide. Cunanan was part of regional efforts to ensure Cambodia's orderly election and laid the groundwork for its entry into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

After his Cambodia stint, he was involved in various cause-oriented efforts. When former President Gloria Arroyo assumed power in 2001, he was appointed to different state-run government corporations, including the Philippine National Oil Co (as president and CEO) and pension fund Social Security System (as chairman).

He represented the pension fund in the board of various companies where SSS has a stake. These include:

  • Philex Mining Corp
  • Union Bank of the Philippines
  • Belle Corp
  • First Philippine Holdings (which has a stake in Manila Electric Co.)

In 2010, when the Aquino administration has assumed power, Cunanan, together with former SSS chief Romulo Neri, were charged with tax evasion raps by the Bureau of Internal Revenue for failing to declare their incomes as board members.

He denied the charges thru a statement he issued from the Fuda Cancer Hospital.

Fuda is known for its facilities for "cryosurgery," which involves the freezing of cancer tumor to prevent the spread of cancer cells in a patient’s body.

"There will be a wake from Tuesday, January 18, to the morning of Friday, January 21, at the Heritage Memorial in Fort Bonifacio," the family said in a notice to friends and family.

The burial will be on Saturday, January 22.