Plunder raps filed vs HGC officials

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Saturday, March 29, 2014


GRAFT and plunder charges were recently filed before the Office of the Ombudsman against former and current officials of the Home Guaranty Corporation (HGC).

In his seven-page complaint, Lawyer Alan Paguia said HGC President Manuel Sanchez and his immediate predecessor, Gonzalo Benjamin Bongolan, should explain the "huge financial losses" suffered by the government-owned and-controlled corporation (GOCC).

Paguia cited the annual report by the Commission on Audit (COA) on the HGC's financial and management performance from 2009 to 2011 as basis in pointing to the alleged specific acts of mismanagement and questionable financial decisions made by Sanchez and Bongolan as HGC top honchos.

“I was compelled to file this case because I was worried that these abuses happening at the HGC may end up forgotten and neglected,” Paguia said after the filing of the complaint.

Classified as a GOCC, the HGC, the lawyer noted that it is mandated by its charter (RA 8763 or the Home Guaranty Corp. Act of 2000) to operate a credit guaranty program in support of the government's effort to promote housing ownership by providing risk guarantees and fiscal incentives for housing credits coming from financial institutions.

"Everyone seemed focused on the abuses of the pork barrel fund to the neglect of other public officials also being found by the COA to have committed grave abuse of discretion and authority for personal gain," he added.

Based on COA reports, Paguia listed specific acts of abuse of power and authority committed by Sanchez in 2010 and specific violations of the law allegedly committed by Bongolan in 2009.

On the part of Bongolan, the COA auditors took him to task for, among others, increasing HGC's investment on private shares of stocks and bonds from P3 million to P734 million contrary to Section 22 of its charter and the provisions of the 2009 General Appropriations Act.

The lawyer said that Bongolan then allegedly made a turn around and used the portion of the interest income from these investments to reward himself and other HGC officials some P9.3-million in Monetary Incentive Award.

Paguia said that according to COA is contrary to civil service rule, Section 5 of Presidential Degree 1597 and Memorandum 20 signed then President Arroyo, mandating clearance from the Office of the President for such expenses.

He added that contrary to the said laws, Bongolan authorized the use of P22.2 million for the HGC's motor vehicles purchase plan for its officials.

Paguia cited that the COA also questioned and disallowed more than P415-million disbursed by the HGC for its retirement plan for being contrary to Teves Retirement Law (RA 4968).

He said that the HGC allegedly lost some P247 million over the sale of three so-called APEC villas and 52 quadruplex units when these were sold for a measly P41.5 million and P48 million, respectively.

The COA said that the villas have a carrying amount of more than P133 million, while the quadruplex units have a recorded cost of more than P204 million.

He noted that during the time of Bongolan, the HGC also piled up losses reaching P9.8 billion as of 2009.

In the case of Sanchez, Paguia said that the HGC accumulated deficit ballooned further to P12.7 billion as of 2011, which "cast doubt on its ability to provide a viable shelter program for the homeless."

According to the commission, the GOCC's liabilities worth more than P6.1 billion also exceeds its current assets worth P3.1 billion by some P2.9 billion by the end of 2011.

Like Bongolan, the COA also questioned the HGC's retirement plan approved by Sanchez totaling some P120.7 million for also violating RA 4968.

The amount represents the bulk of P149.7 million in total disallowances by the COA for 2011. The car plan for HGC officials costing P28 million was also questioned by COA.

The lawyer, citing COA, also said that titles of HGC acquired assets worth P7 billion were not consolidated in the name of HGC “thereby depriving the HGC of the opportunity to sells and recover from these properties.”

House probe

Meanwhile, Abakada Party-list Representative Jonathan Dela Cruz has directed the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability summoned anytime when session resumes on May 5 for panel hearing Bongolan and Sanchez to explain the status of the HGC.

Dela Cruz said that the HGC, during the hearing, also expected respond to the demands of the COA and the Government Corporate Council agency in-charge of GOCC.

The lawmaker added that these losses is hampering its ability to perform its mandate of providing guaranty to government’s mass housing projects as well as contributing to government’s fiscal problems, amid repeated calls from the COA in the last five years for HGC to fix its finances. (JCC/Sunnex)

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