Plunder raps vs Noy, allies filed, assailed

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Former president Benigno Aquino III and six others are facing plunder and graft charges before the Office of the Ombudsman filed by two individuals, who cited a non-existent Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) circular as main evidence in their complaint.

BSP assistant governor and general counsel Elmore Capule said Circular 49 used as main evidence in the plunder raps is spurious.

In a 10-page complaint-affidavit, lawyer Fernando Perito, who claimed to be a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), and Rogelio Cantoria, who claimed to have worked as a BSP bank examiner from 1976 to 1995, said Aquino violated Republic Act 7080 or the Plunder Law and RA 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Aside from Aquino, also named respondents were former interior secretary Manuel Roxas II (identified as the secretary of the Department of Nutrition and Local Government), former finance secretary Cesar Purisima, Sen. Leila de Lima, who served as justice secretary during Aquino’s term, Sen. Franklin Drilon, BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. and BSP treasury department financial operations chief Lorelie Fernandez.

The complaint stemmed from Aquino and the other respondents’ alleged conspiracy to illegally ship 3,500 metric tons of gold reserves worth $141.298 billion or P6.801 trillion from the BSP to Centennial Energy Co. Ltd, a private company based in Thailand.

The complainants said the gold bars were initially deposited at Union Bank of Switzerland under the name “Ferdinand E. Marcos.”

Perito and Cantoria said the gold reserves were supposed to be shipped to Thailand “but was fortunately intercepted and confiscated” by a certain Patrick Lami in Belgium sometime in December 2014.

The complainants cited as their evidence a BSP Circular No. 49 Series of 2014, which supposedly authorized Centennial Energy to produce and issue the “Limited States Dollars Currency” totaling $3 trillion which was supposed to be used to fund “humanitarian projects and for ASEAN countries.”

A check with the BSP showed Circular 49 is nonexistent. The BSP website showed there was no Circular 49 issued in 2014.

The BSP issued Circular No. 849 in 2014 pertaining to the amendment to the Manual of Regulation for Non-Bank Financial Institutions on Exclusions from the single borrower’s loan limit allowed for quasi-banks.

It also issued Circular Letter 2014-049 informing banks about a lost Bangko Sentral registration document.

The bank regulator issued Circular No. 49 in 1994 but this pertains to the changes to the Manual of Regulation for banks and other financial intermediaries.

Copy of the dubious Circular 49, however, appeared on questionable news blog sites such as Definitely Filipino, Trending News PH File and NetizenPH.com as well as the Facebook page “Kingdom Filipina Hacienda Sovereign Host Nation.”

The laws cited by the complainants as basis for the respondents’ act of signing Circular 49 also appear to be questionable.

For instance, the complaint said that under Section 1 of Certification of Circular 49, Centennial Energy was given authority by the respondents to produce and issue US dollars in accordance with Section 50 RA 7655.

However, RA 7655 is actually “An Act Increasing the Minimum Wage of Househelpers.”

Aquino’s spokesperson Abigail Valte said the complaint is absurd.

“How does one answer a complaint so patently absurd on its face? It defies logic, which is not surprising since it came from a fake news site. First there is no Department of Nutrition and Local Government. Second, the Secretary of Justice and Secretary of the Interior and Local Government are not members of the Monetary Board,” she said. 

“Sana ay hindi na piliting pasagutin pa ang dating pangulo, dahil napaalala sa amin ang kasabihan sa Tagalog: ang pumatol sa baliw, baliw (I hope the former president will not asked to answer these charges, since, as the Tagalog saying goes, those who respond to insanity are likewise insane),” she added.

The complaint said that Circular 49 was supposedly to be signed by Purisima while a certification attached to the circular was supposedly signed by De Lima, Roxas, Tetangco, Drilon and Purisima.

The certification supposedly stated that the 3,500 metric tons of gold were taken out of the country and deposited to Union Bank of Switzerland.

Both documents were supposedly coursed through the Office of the President.

The complainants alleged that if not intercepted, the trillions of dollars that the respondents were supposed to get from the gold deposits would have been used by the respondents “for their personal benefits, enrichment and appropriation,” especially as three of them ran in the 2016 elections.

Roxas ran for president while De Lima and Drilon ran for senator in the May 2016 elections.

The complainants also cited RA 7735 as basis for the use of the US Dollars from Centennial Energy for Humanitarian Projects and for Association of Southeast Asian Nations member states.

But RA 7735 is actually an “Act Establishing a National High School in Barangay Poblacion in the Municipality of Mawab, Davao to be known as the Lorenzo S. Sarmiento Sr. National High School.” – Elizabeth Marcelo, Paolo Romero, Lawrence Agcaoili

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