7 ex-PCGG officials face graft raps

Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) - September 10, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Office of the Ombudsman yesterday ordered the filing of graft charges against seven former officials of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) over a 1998 compromise agreement that almost cost the government a 481-hectare property worth over P2 billion.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales found probable cause to accuse former PCGG commissioners Magtanggol Gunigundo, Reynaldo Guiao, Hermilo Rosal, Julieta Bertuben and Herminio Mendoza, together with then director Mauro Estrada, of entering into a settlement agreement that was “patently unfair” and “a virtual sell-out.”

It appeared that a petition for forfeiture of ill-gotten wealth was filed against former Muntinlupa mayor Maximino Argana in July 1987. During trial, Argana’s heirs offered a compromise settlement where the government would get 361.92 hectares or 75 percent of the 481.78-hectare lot while the family retains 119.86 hectares or 25 percent.

By July 1998, the Sandiganbayan approved the compromise, which the PCGG, under a new set of officers, wanted to rescind, citing fraud and insidious misrepresentation. The Sandiganbayan Third Division approved in 2000 the move to reverse the agreement in favor of the state after the ombudsman’s Field Investigation Office (FIO) found the value of the properties, located in Famy and Pangil towns in Laguna, to be “deliberately omitted.”

It turned out that the parcel ceded to the government was valued only at P3.62 million based on the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program valuation of P10,000 per hectare, while the market value of the portion retained by the Argana heirs and located in an urban area was P2.4 billion based on valuation of P2,000 per square meter.

ACIRC ARGANA BY JULY COMPREHENSIVE AGRARIAN REFORM PROGRAM FAMY AND PANGIL FIELD INVESTIGATION OFFICE GOOD GOVERNMENT HERMILO ROSAL JULIETA BERTUBEN AND HERMINIO MENDOZA MAGTANGGOL GUNIGUNDO MAURO ESTRADA
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