PCGG set to file charges against POTC president, board members

- Sandy  Araneta () - May 14, 2006 - 12:00am
The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) said yesterday it is planning to file charges of estafa against the president and board members of the Philippine Overseas Telecommunications Corp. (POTC) for allegedly selling sequestered assets of the government without the PCGG’s knowledge.

PCGG commissioner for assets and management Ricardo Abcede said POTC president Victor Africa and his board sold assets of subsidiary Philippine Communications Satellite Corp. (Philcomsat) without informing the PCGG.

Abcede also denied allegations that the agency was partly to be blamed for the dissipation of assets of Philcomsat Holdings Corp. (PHC).

Shares of POTC were sequestered by PCGG in 1986 as part of the ill-gotten wealth of the late dictator President Ferdinand Marcos.

POTC owns both Philcomsat and PHC.

Abcede said Africa and certain directors of the corporation sold an airplane, a helicopter and three townhouses located in Metro Manila all owned by POTC.

Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, one of the founding shareholders of Philcomsat, earlier criticized the board of PHC, including representatives of the PCGG, for allegedly "dissipating" the assets of the publicly listed company.

Enrile asked the board to explain how a substantial part of the P1 billion that he said the company got from Philcomsat was spent.

Earlier, Philip Brodett, PHC director and vice president, said the company’s assets were intact.

The company’s financial  report in 2005 said total assets amounted to P1.48 billion, down from P1.50 billion in 2004. Cash and cash equivalents were P691.0 million, down from P746.2 million in 2004.

Brodett said Philcomsat paid P394.4 million in cash to PHC, not P1 billion.

He said Philcomsat subscribed to P799.6 million worth of PHC shares and paid P394.4 million in cash and P405.1 million in the form of property–nine parcels of land and a condominium unit at the Pacific Star Building assigned to Philcomsat Holdings.

Brodett said that Philcomsat Holdings had grown from a P10-million company in 1996 when it acquired Liberty Mines Inc., to a company with no debt and with P1.5 billion in assets.

He also said the company had a cash payment, to establish PHC, with only P394,458,957. Now, Brodett said they grew with assets amounting to about P1.48 billion.

"I think the good senator is misinformed. The document will show that there is no dissipation of assets. It is now P1.48 billion company with no debt, which is reflected in our financial statement and audited. There is no dissipation of assets," he said.

Abcede, who earlier held a joint press conference at the PHC compound in Makati, said he has various reasons from calling for media.

First, he said is to answer the allegations and statements made by Enrile.

Second, in order to explain the government’s role insofar as the three companies are concerned, the Philippine Overseas Telecommunications Corp (POTC, Philcomsat, and PHC.

And third is to shed some light on what is going on at the Securities  and Exchange Commission  (SEC) itself where some "battle is raging" between two groups.

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