Former SSS chair a fine man; ably defended self from Drilon’s charges
Last August 13, Amado Cabaero, past president of the Philippine Association of Retired Persons, in a letter to the editor, made some allegations about my late client, former SSS (Social Security System) Chair Thelmo Y. Cunanan. We cannot allow the letter to remain unanswered—especially since he’s no longer around to defend himself, having passed away on Jan. 16, 2011.
While Cabaero assailed the reputation of other former SSS officials as well, I will zero in only on facts concerning my late client, as the others can very well take care of themselves. Cabaero asserts that Cunanan and Romulo Neri “were reportedly charged by the Bureau of Internal Revenue for nonpayment of income tax on their illegally obtained income as SSS representatives in the boards of Philex Mining and Union Bank.”
Cunanan, like the other former officials sitting in various private boards for the SSS, had paid withholding tax regularly. While the BIR sued him for tax evasion—this news item was bannered in the front page of the Inquirer on Dec. 3, 2010, as he was seeking treatment for advanced cancer in Guangzhou—it later dropped its case against him when the explanation on those withheld taxes attached to his ITRs (income tax returns) was made.
Cabaero also charged that Cunanan’s incomes from certain companies were “illegally obtained.” That is patent falsehood, inasmuch as members of the SSS commission were (and are) duly appointed to those boards and paid salaries commensurate to their immense responsibilities shared in running those companies. But it should be stressed that Cunanan, like other SSS officials, respected certain arrangements already in place in the SSS when he came in; in fact the current administration refined these arrangements in a new governing law in 2012.
For example, in a press statement on Sept. 1, 2010, Cunanan asserted that he and two other officials remitted to the SSS Treasury Department half of what they had received as profit-sharing from Union Bank each year over the past four years, and covered by proper and verifiable receipts.
Cabaero cited Sen. Franklin Drilon’s assertion that Cunanan and three other former SSS officials were found to have “pocketed” trust funds investment earnings “in stock options from Philex.” His implication is that SSS funds were used by the SSS officials in those stock options they availed themselves of.
In a letter to Senator Drilon on Aug. 27, 2010, Cunanan asserted, however, that “NOT A CENTAVO OF SSS FUNDS went into my purchase of these shares of stock under the Philex stock option plan as I paid for them with my own funds and I have the receipts for them.”
I hope the Inquirer will publish this clarification right away—out of consideration for a fine man who has since passed away, but whose good name is still being maligned.
—JOSE MA. ROSENDO A. SOLIS,
counsel for the late Thelmo Y. Cunanan
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