House probe on Legacy, pre-need firms losing steam?
The Philippine Star
Feb. 22, 2009
by Jess Diaz
MANILA, Philippines – Is the inquiry of the House of Representatives into the bankruptcy of the Legacy Group of banks and pre-need companies of Celso de los Angeles losing steam?
This is the question congressmen are asking after the committee on banks and financial intermediaries failed to schedule a hearing this week.
One congressman, who did not want to be identified, said the House should not be seen as losing interest in De los Angeles, or worse, covering up for him.
In talks with reporters last Monday, Manila Rep. Jaime Lopez, committee chairman, said he did not set a hearing because of the unavailability of a meeting room.
“All the hearing rooms have been reserved by other committees,” he said.
However, the schedule of committee meetings for this week showed that while most rooms are reserved, the Andaya Hall, the biggest conference room in the House, was occupied only last Tuesday morning and afternoon.
The ways and means committee met in the hall named after the late Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Sr. in the morning, while in the afternoon, it was occupied by the committee on constitutional amendments.
It was free for use by any committee on Monday and the rest of the week.
The Lopez panel held its last hearing on De los Angeles and his Legacy mess last Feb. 9. It is scheduled to resume its inquiry today, Feb. 23, after almost two weeks.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said he asked Lopez to hold daily hearings next week since lawmakers are about to go on their month-long Holy Week break.
Earlier, Lagman complained about the long gap in the inquiry, saying the committee is not able to sustain its momentum in finding out what happened to the failed Legacy Group of 12 rural banks and three pre-need companies.
He said the committee should have questioned De los Angeles on Feb. 11 when he showed up for its hearing.
The Legacy owner-founder went home after being told by Lopez’s staff that the hearing would be on Lopez’s bill seeking the creation of a Philippine Pre-need Insurance Corp. (PPIC) and that he was not among the resource persons invited.
“We should have questioned him simultaneously with our discussion on PPIC,” Lagman said.
In a letter to The STAR, Lopez clarified that it was not he who sent De los Angeles home on Feb. 11.
“The truth is that on that scheduled committee meeting, I never saw Mr. De los Angeles. So how could I possibly send him away?” he said.
“In any case, the committee will continue with the investigation of the closed rural banks and pre-need companies and dig deeper into the causes of the closures in aid of legislation,” Lopez said.
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