Solon asks colleagues to produce evidence on ABS CBN-DBP condonation case

Published January 19, 2021, 5:58 PM

by Ben Rosario

The chief solon-investigator in the reported questionable deal between the Development Bank of the Philippines and the owners of the ABS-CBN that allegedly resulted in government losing P1.6 billion has asked accusers to produce the evidence that will support the allegations.

This view shows the ABS-CBN network headquarters in Quezon City in the Metro Manila area. (Photo by Maria TAN / AFP / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

DIWA Partylist Rep. Michael Aglipay, chairman of the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability, aired this advise to initiators of the probe as blame throwing marred the legislative inquiry into the alleged anomaly that resulted in the supposed condonation of the loans of the Lopez Group by the state-owned government bank.

Aglipay lectured Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte, a former deputy speaker previously assigned to supervise key committees in the House of Representatives, on the way the inquiry should be handled.

Aglipay and Villafuerte are members of the Malacanang-backed majority bloc in the Lower House.

“It is not our job to do staff work.  It is the accuser, in this case the sponsor of the resolution, to get the evidence and invite the resource persons,” said Aglipay, a newly-elected committee chairman.

“It is Rep. Defensor’s job to prove his case,” said Aglipay, referring to Anakalusugan Partylist Rep. Michael Defensor, former chairman of the House Committee on Public Accounts.

Defensor is one of the several sponsors of House Resolution No. 1040 that proposed a congressional inquiry into the allegedly anomalous decision of the DBP to write-off the loans made by firms controlled by or affiliated with the ABS-CBN owners.

It was DUMPER-PTDA Partylist Rep. Claudine Bautista who exposed the alleged anomaly during the congressional hearings on bills that proposed the grant of a fresh 25-year legislative franchise to ABS-CBN.

Following Aglipay’s first scheduled hearing on HR 1040, Villafuerte aired his misgivings over the outcome of he proceedings as he advised Aglipay and other newly-installed committee chairmen to “do their full staff work” before pursuing legislative investigations.

“I commend the zeal of new House committee officials  in initiating investigations about suspected irregularities and acts believed detrimental to the interests of the government and the public.  But they should be circumspect in carrying out these inquiries to avoid erroneous allegations that could well be the result of poorly done background work or unverified reports,” said Villafuerte.

Aglipay  is apparently complaining that instead of directing blame on Defensor who was among those who initiated the probe, Villafuerte chose to pin the blame on the supposed failure to gather “solid evidence on suspected irregularities.”

The partylist solon noted that Defensor and Villafuerte belong to the  BTS, a new political bloc formed by former Speaker and incumbent Taguig Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano.

Cayetano and his allies publicly introduced the formation of the BTS by launching attacks against the new leadership under Speaker Lord Allan Velasco.

Other convenors of the group are Reps. Raneo Abu (NP, Batangas); Fredenil Castro (Lakas-CMD, CApiz); Dan Fernandez (NUP, Laguna) and Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado (NUP, Bulacan).  

All are former House officials stripped of their respective leadership roles by Velasco.