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How P7-B Globe Asiatique scam was done

/ 02:13 AM March 19, 2014

It is becoming clear how easy it is to steal billions of pesos from government agencies in spite of red tape and documentary requirements.

The documents required are merely faked and the government agencies do not make efforts to verify authenticity.

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That was the case with the pork barrel scam, the Malampaya Fund scam, the smuggling of rice through cooperatives, and now the Globe Asiatique fund scam in which P7 billion of Pag-Ibig funds for housing were lent to “buyers” of Delfin Lee’s housing developments, 60 percent of whom turned out to be “ghost” borrowers. It was so easy to set up nongovernment organizations and cooperatives and produce bogus documents.

Lawyer Darlene Marie Berberabe, CEO and president of Pag-Ibig Fund, related to journalists at the Kapihan sa Manila at the Diamond Hotel how Globe Asiatique perpetrated its housing scam.

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The first mistake was the decision of Pag-Ibig—in order to make its funds readily available to its members, to relieve the housing shortage, and to make the processing of loan applications faster—allowing developers with a “good track record” (Delfin Lee has a good track record?) to process the loan applications. The approved applications were then forwarded to Pag-Ibig and the funds released.

The second mistake was the postvalidation of the applications. They were checked only after the loans had been approved and released. It turned out that more than half of Globe Asiatique’s borrowers were fictitious.

Pag-Ibig thought it was amply protected by the “buy back” provision in the contract with Globe Asiatique. If the borrowers do not pay the loans, Globe Asiatique will simply buy it back and Pag-Ibig will get back its loan. The developer bought back the units and then sold these to other buyers. That is why there are two or more claimants to the same units. However, payments for the loans collected by the developer were not forwarded to Pag-Ibig. The developer simply pocketed them.

Berberabe emphasized that Pag-Ibig will not lose anything in the scam. The housing agency holds all the titles to the units mortgaged to it. The losers will be the buyers, if they did not pay directly to Pag-Ibig. If there are two claimants to a unit, who will Pag-ibig recognize? Naturally, the one who is paying the loan, as shown in Pag-Ibig records. If the other claimant has nothing to show as proof of his payments, then he has to go after the developer. Berberabe said Pag-Ibig will help all those buyers who have been cheated by the developer.

During the investigation, the Pag-Ibig chief said, borrowers admitted that they were paid to sign loan applications although they had no intention of borrowing, of owning a unit, or of paying the loan. This may be the work of agents who get commissions from proceeds of the loan and do not care what happens next.  Some borrowers were outright fictitious, and the developer pocketed the proceeds and sold the unit to another buyer.

Many of the borrowers were overseas Filipino workers who thought that by buying a unit in installments, they would have a place to go home to. And because they are abroad, they have no means of checking the units or the records. They simply paid merrily, trusting the developer, thinking that when they go back to the Philippines, they would have a unit waiting for them.

Are there other developers with the same contracts as Globe Asiatique?

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Yes, but they are now being reviewed and the same policy with Globe Asiatique has been totally stopped.

Borrowers will now have to go directly to Pag-Ibig to apply. They will be interviewed and asked to produce lots of documentary proof.

Many are complaining that there is too much red tape and that the processing is too slow, Berberabe said. But she would prefer to be accused of that than to have a repeat of the Globe Asiatique scam, she said.

* * *

Still another mistake is the post-audit of government expenses. The Commission on Audit looks at these expenses long after the money is gone. It has found that P5 billion in cash advances are still unliquidated.

This is a common abuse by government officials. They get cash advances, spend the money, and then don’t explain how they spent it. When asked to liquidate the funds, they claim that they have lost the receipts. The law says that when you don’t liquidate a cash advance, you have to return the money. But nobody does that.

The COA said many officials with unliquidated funds have retired, gone abroad, or died.

I think cash advances should be discouraged. And if it is absolutely necessary, the rules should be very strict. For one, there should be a deadline for liquidating cash advances. If the official fails to liquidate before the deadline, he should return the money or face the consequences.

And we should go back to pre-auditing.

* * *

I am being badgered by fans who ask when is the next show of Aliw awardee Margaux Salcedo at the Manila Hotel. Well, here it is: March 26, starting at 9 p.m. at the Tap Room.

Margaux, who has just returned from Singapore where she was a juror in selecting Asia’s Best Restaurants, has a radio program at dwIZ on Mondays and Tuesdays, from 11 a.m. to 12 noon. The name of the program is “Home Cook,” and it is all about food, restaurants, cooking and recipes.

* * *

Mama Mia Abbamania is back in the Philippines. Enjoy Abba’s music live as played and sung by Europe’s top tribute band, Abbamania.

Catch the band at Solaire Resort and Casino on March 21, at Island Cove and Resort Hotel on March 28, and at Lagao gym in General Santos City on March 30. It will be two hours of nonstop Abba music live. The OB Montessori choir will perform with the band.

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TAGS: Darlene Marie Berberabe, Delfin Lee, Globe Asiatique, Globe Asiatique scam, kapihan sa manila, Malampaya Fund, pag-Ibig Fund
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