2 witnesses vs Legacy owner surface
Philippine Daily Inquirer
March 5, 2009
by Erika Tapalla
MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE) Two key witnesses who will testify against the owner of the group of rural banks that closed down after delcaring bankruptcy have come out and have sought the protection of the Senate.
Carolina Hiñola and Namnama Pasetes Santos, Legacy Consolidated Plans Inc. Senior Vice President (SVP) and Chief Finance Officer (CFO) respectively, will provide documents that will prove the illegal acts allegedly performed by Celso de los Angeles that led to the closure of his company.
Hiñola and Santos were presented Thursday at a press conference by Philip Piccio, president of the Parents Enabling Parents Coalition at the Club Filipino in Greenhills.
The two are among the Legacy owners charged with de los Angeles by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) for syndicated “estafa” (fraud) and economic sabotage for allegedly duping investors of more than P1 billion.
Piccio said that Hiñola and Santos came to them feeling very threatened and fearful over the alleged evidence they have against De los Angeles.
“Talagang lumapit na talaga kami sa aming townmate para sabihin ang totoo dahil talagang ayaw na namin magtago, at magsinungaling [We really approached people from our town so we could tell the truth because we no longer want to hide and tell a lie],” Hiñola said.
Hiñola and Santos claimed that De los Angeles would withdraw money from banks
to reimburse the expenses of Legacy, signing slips using his position in Legacy, while in office as mayor of Santo Domingo town.
The money would then get transferred to the general budget of Legacy, which would get transferred to his private account.
“Kahit na nung mayor siya, pumupunta pa rin siya sa mga meeting naming at nag pre-preside siya dun at dun din siya nag-sisign. There are times na pinapadala yung documents sa Santo Domingo [Even though he was already a mayor, he still attends and presides in some of our meetings where he also signs documents. Sometimes, he has the documents sent to Santo Domingo],” Santos said.
“Pinapatransfer niya sa ‘kin yung mga funds niya sa account niya sa BDO [Banco de Oro] through deposit slips and cheques [He asks me to transfer the funds to his account in BDO through deposit slips and cheques],” said Santos.
Santos, Hiñola and Piccio claimed that the vouchers from Asiatrust Bank, Land Bank of the Philippines, and Banco de Oro Unibank would show that De los Angeles operated the company until its collapse.
“De los Angeles divested and continued to sign as Chairman of the Board and CEO of Legacy Consolidated Plans Inc. and continued to draw funds from Asiatrust and Land Bank, funds that are supposed to serve plant holders. But he’s the one signing the forms and certifying the people. The amounts funneled into his private account is mindboggling. The amount stifled from Mindanao is mindboggling. We counted P48 million days ago, and the amount has increased and we’re still counting,” Piccio said.
PEP Coalition volunteer accountants and the witnesses are going through the documents and investigating the involvement of a certain Securities and Exchange commissioner in this “grand scheme of pay offs,” said Piccio.
“If you think that that the Legacy Consolidated Plans Inc. is the mother company of all these transferring of funds thing, it’s not. There’s another company above and way beyond,” Piccio said.
“We will not name names yet. We will reveal everything at the Senate hearing Monday 10 a.m.. We want to find out how BSP neglected to see this. Did they not audit this? Where did the money go? And will the people get it back?” Piccio said.
Piccio said he and the witnesses have approached Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez Tuesday night to inform him about this issue.
“The justice [secretary] is now fully aware of what has happened and he has ordered me and the two witnesses to submit all documents to DoJ, to take to this office for safekeeping because these are already elements of evidence to this case,” Piccio said.
Piccio also asked media not to subject the witnesses to questions where they could be sued for libel.
“Natatakot na talaga kami kasi nga maraming koneksyons si sir [De los Angeles] at simpleng tao lang kami, swelduhan at walang pera; pero malalaman niyo yung katotohanan sa Senate hearing. Sasabhin naming lahat, [We’re really scared because of De los Angeles’ connections and we’re just simple people on the payroll with no money; but you’ll find out the truth at the Senate hearing. We’re going to say everything],” Hiñola said.