Lawmakers question P2-M Piltel shares of former NTC chief
() - September 28, 2008 - 12:00am

Lawmakers have questioned the P2-million worth of Pilipino Telephone Corp. (Piltel) shares held by Ponciano “Jacky” Cruz Jr., the former chief of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) accused of allegedly self-dealing while he was at the helm of the agency.

Cruz and other former and current public officials will be summoned in connection with the ongoing Congressional inquiry into the anomalous sale and transfer of legislative franchises, according to Agusan del Sur Rep. Rodolfo Plaza.

Citing Piltel’s latest regulatory filing of its top 100 stockholders, Plaza said Cruz is listed as the 52nd biggest shareholder of Piltel, with 200,000 shares in his name.

Piltel’s stock recently surged to as high as P9.90 per share, which brings Cruz’s shares in the country’s third-largest mobile telephone service provider to more than P2 million.

According to Plaza, businessman Jaime Dichaves, who claimed ownership of the highly controversial Jose Velarde bank account, is also listed immediately on top of Cruz as the 51st biggest shareholder of Piltel. Dichaves is listed as owning the same number of shares as Cruz.

At the height of then President Estrada’s impeachment trial, former senator and then Bohol Rep. Ernesto Herrera had named Dichaves as Malacañang’s “bagman” at the NTC, allegedly collecting “tong” from every firm seeking a license or permit from the agency, Plaza said.

A P20-million Asian Bank Corp. check issued by a businessman with interests in telecommunications was among the checks found deposited in the Velarde account.

Plaza had previously accused Cruz of self-dealing during his brief stint as NTC chief.

Cruz allegedly granted a “midnight” satellite TV license to GV Broadcasting System Inc. (renamed MediaScape Inc.). It turned out that Cruz had a stake and sat in the board of directors of SATVentures Inc., a holding firm that effectively controlled GV, Plaza said.

Plaza is author of House Bill 5028, which seeks to repeal GV’s congressional franchise for manifold violations of the conditions of its legislative concession. He said GV and its franchise were sold and transferred twice without the prior approval of Congress.

Piltel and all publicly traded firms are required to submit their updated list of top 100 shareholders to the Philippine Stock Exchange every quarter. With nearly 12.5 million subscribers as of June 30, Piltel is a subsidiary of Smart, which in turn is owned by Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co.

ASIAN BANK CORP BOHOL REP BROADCASTING SYSTEM INC CITING PILTEL CRUZ CRUZ JR. DICHAVES ERNESTO HERRERA HOUSE BILL JAIME DICHAVES PILTEL
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