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Globe Asiatique got easy terms in solon’s time

First Posted 03:22:00 09/10/2010

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO?It was during the stint of Marikina Rep. Romero Quimbo as president and chief executive officer of Pag-IBIG Fund that Globe Asiatique Realty Holdings Corp. obtained easy loan terms for two housing projects in Pampanga, documents showed.

Investigators are now looking into the P6.552-billion loan taken out by Globe Asiatique on behalf of 8,973 accounts in Xevera Bacolor and Xevera Mabalacat in Pampanga from March 2009 to May 2010.

With Quimbo at the helm, Globe Asiatique acquired P1.925 billion of that loan under Pag-IBIG?s Other Working Group (OWG) program from March 2008 until he resigned in March 2009, according to documents obtained by the Inquirer.

The OWG is a special loan granted to individual Pag-IBIG members with no formal employment.

The documents suggest that P4.626 billion representing the bulk of the Xevera housing loan was released during the term of Jaime Fabiaña, Quimbo?s successor at Pag-IBIG Fund, also known as the Home Mutual Development Fund.

Special arrangement

In a June 11, 2008, letter, Quimbo informed Globe Asiatique president Delfin Lee that Pag-IBIG ?is pursuing on a pilot basis a special Other Working Group membership program for your Xevera project.?

A month before Quimbo left the agency, Globe Asiatique obtained ?special arrangements on Xevera 1 [Bacolor] and 2 [Mabalacat],? a Pag-IBIG memorandum dated Feb. 5, 2009, showed.

Restricting a single developer to no more than P500 million of loans each year is among the rules that the agency allegedly bent. Globe Asiatique was given an exemption from this rule.

Son of Pag-IBIG officer

In the memorandum, the company also deputized as loan counselor its employee, Marvin Arevalo, a son of Gloria Arevalo, the deputy chief executive officer of Pag-IBIG Fund?s vice president for North Luzon, Vilma Flores.

Reached by the Inquirer, Quimbo said he needed to see the documents himself before he released a statement. ?I will try to get the documents from Pag-IBIG as I don?t recall them anymore,? he said.

Noli de Castro?s role

In an earlier interview with the Inquirer, Lee said the OWG was a result of his complaint to then Vice President Noli de Castro over what he called the ?difficult? time Quimbo was giving him in accepting members and approving loans.

De Castro was former chair of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), which oversees all government shelter agencies like Pag-IBIG.

Quimbo was forced to resign because De Castro reportedly banned him from speaking at board meetings, according to an Inquirer source who declined to be named for lack of authority to speak on the matter.

The Pag-IBIG board confirmed the OWG program during its 248th regular meeting on June 20, 2008.

On July 14, 2008, the San Fernando, Pampanga, branch of Pag-IBIG received its first memorandum prescribing the OWG program. Those qualified in the program have a regular source of income but have no formal employer-employee relationship.

Regular Pag-IBIG members are those who, by way of being employed, make monthly contributions to the national savings and shelter financing agency.

Pag-IBIG used to require members to wait for a year before they could avail themselves of loans. By March 2000, the residency requirement was raised to 24 months.

Lump-sum payment

But by 2001, Pag-IBIG allowed lump-sum payment representing 24 months of membership contributions, speeding up the period required for members to apply for loans.

The OWG members were soon allowed to pay lump-sum contributions.

This ?instant membership,? the absence of a system of strict verification measures and the alleged purchase of signatures of spurious borrowers (referred to as special buyers) have been cited as weaknesses in Pag-IBIG that private developers may have taken advantage of.

Last week, Pag-IBIG secured all the loan folders and land titles of Globe Asiatique, transferring the documents from the Pampanga branch to the national office in Makati City on orders of Vice President Jejomar Binay, who replaced De Castro as HUDCC chair.

Pag-IBIG has continued gathering evidence of irregular housing loan transactions against Globe Asiatique.

Binay told reporters he and Pag-IBIG Fund lawyers ?have a clear idea where we are going.?

Blacklisting

He confirmed published reports Pag-IBIG was set to blacklist Globe Asiatique and file charges against the firm.

?The fact that the terms and conditions of (housing loan contracts between Globe Asiatique and Pag-IBIG Fund borrowers) were violated automatically calls for the blacklisting of the company,? he said.

He said ?it?s not an offshoot of what we discovered but basically due to clear violations without delving on criminal and civil liabilities.?

Binay said he ordered an investigation of Globe Asiatique?s alleged irregular transactions as early as last July. ?I learned about them during my first week in office. I had them investigated immediately,? he said.

Emma Linda Faria, Pag-IBIG officer in charge, said many of the borrowers did not have the capacity to pay for their loans.

Faria called the agency a ?victim of fraud? as she also accused the firm of using ?ghost borrowers.?

?Unblemished record?

Lee has disputed the allegations against his company.

He told the Inquirer the firm had an ?unblemished record with Pag-IBIG Fund.?

Lee asserted the company ?does not owe Pag-IBIG any money.?

He said that in the memorandum of agreements (between borrowers and Globe Asiatique), ?we guarantee through a five-year buyback scheme should the borrowers fail to pay. Thus, in any payment default or bad account, it is GA, not Pag-IBIG or the government which loses money.?

On Globe Asiatique?s so-called ?dubious accounts,? Lee said ?they have been settled long before the negative stories came out in media.?

Records will show it was Globe Asiatique, not Pag-IBIG, which discovered and reported the so-called dubious accounts, not the other way around, he said.

Lee welcomed any government inquiry into the alleged anomalies involving his company as he also expressed confidence ?the results of the investigation will vindicate my name and reputation.?


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