Sorsogon officials, bank execs charged for P350M LBP loan (Bicol Mail)

Sorsogon officials, bank execs charged for P350M LBP loan
July 19, 2012 by bicolmail in Top Stories with 0 Comments

By Danny O. Calleja

SORSOGON CITY – The Sorsogon governor, his vice-governor and nine members of the provincial legislative board including two top executives of the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) have been charged for graft in connection with the P350M loan recently acquired by the province.

Charged for violation of Republic Act No. 3019 otherwise known as “The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act” were Gov. Raul Lee, Vice-Gov. Antonio Escudero, and provincial board members Rebecca Aquino, Fernando David Duran III, Arnulfo Perete, Francisco Eric Ravanilla, Angel Escandor, Benito Doma, Bernard Hao, Patrick Lee-Rodrigueza, and Nelson Maraña.

Also included in the criminal complaint filed with the Office of the Ombudsman by Board Member Vladimir Frivaldo last week were LBP-Legazpi City Branch Manager Hil Benedict Manzanades and LBP Vice-Pres. Renato Eje for allegedly conspiring in the commission of the offense.

Administrative complaints for grave misconduct and serious dishonesty were also lodged by Frivaldo against the provincial officials.

The case stemmed from the P350M loan obtained from LBP by the provincial government in late 2011 which Frivaldo, in the complaint said “are illegal and grossly detrimental and disadvantageous to the provincial government of Sorsogon.”

The loan was applied for by Lee based on approved resolution by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan headed by Escudero as presiding officer authorizing him to do so in October 2011.

The loan with its proceeds supposedly for the implementation of various infrastructure projects of the provincial government was subsequently approved and the initial amount of P100M released in the same year.

As of last May 31, Efilda Nogales, the provincial treasurer and Mercedes Ativo, the provincial accountant said in a certification obtained by Frivaldo that over P72.9M of the fund were already spent by the province for the payment of infrastructure projects funded under the P350-million loan.

Release of the remaining P250 million is being awaited by the province and Frivaldo is asking the Ombudsman to immediately come up with measures to hold its release in abeyance and the released amount of P100M be returned to the creditor bank.

In accusing Lee, Escudero and the SP Membes of graft, Frivaldo said the accused directly violated Section 3 of RA 3019 which says: “persuading, inducing or influencing another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations duly promulgated by competent authority or an offense in connection with the official duties of the latter, or allowing himself to be persuaded, induced, or influenced to commit such violation or offense” constitute corrupt practices.

“The respondent vice-governor who is also the presiding officer of the SP and the respondent board members violated a cardinal rule in the passage of resolutions and ordinances as provided for in Article 7 of Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Local Government Code,” he claimed.

Further, he said the respondents did not even exert efforts nor initiate any actions necessary to secure concessional interest rates or such interest rates lower than the prevailing interest rate to justify their actions.

The interest rate of the loan acquired from the LBP was 5.061 percent while the rate earlier offered by the Philippine National Bank (PNB) for the same loan was only five percent, he said.

“It is noteworthy that there was neither a single official committee hearing held nor any public consultation done for this purpose– a glaring show of conspiracy because despite this, the SP expeditiously passed and approved the resolution allowing the governor to acquire the loan from LBP which has a higher interest rate,” according to Frivaldo.

In asking the Ombudsman that the loan agreement be declared “illegal, therefore null and void,” Frivaldo said the respondents provincial officials should be charged criminally and administratively before the Sandiganbayan and that they should be meted with preventive suspensions from office while investigations are being conducted.


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