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 De Castro to be summoned over housing scam

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Magic Man13
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PostSubject: De Castro to be summoned over housing scam   Mon Sep 06, 2010 4:49 pm

THE House will summon former Vice President and housing czar Noli de Castro to explain how, during his watch, some 400 fictitious housing applications triggered the release of P300 million in low-cost government funds to developer Globe Asiatique.

An investigation is to be conducted after House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II and Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. separately filed resolutions ordering the House committees on good government and housing and urban development to inquire into “ghost housing development projects.”

Marikina City Rep. Romero Federico Quimbo, former Pag-IBIG Fund chief executive, said he supported the House investigation considering that Pag-Ibig granted P40 billion in loans annually to its members.

Quimbo, who left Pag-ibig in February 2009, wanted to find out how much of the P40 billion went to ghost housing projects.

“The irresponsible large-scale use of Pag-ibig funds for unlawful housing activities may lead to a financial crisis,” Gonzales said.

He said audit results within the housing agency showed that 400 to 1,000 loan applications in Globe Asiatique’s Xevera subdivision in Mabalacat, Pampanga, were either fraudulent or questionable.

“Loan processing was irresponsibly facilitated as processors turned a blind eye on loan documentation deficiencies to approve loans in one to three days only....” Gonzales said.

Quimbo said there were only 2.2 million Pag-ibig members when he joined the housing agency in 2002, but that had grown to 7.5 million by February 2009, when he left. The agency’s assets had also increased to P270 billion from P97 billion, he said.

In 2008 alone, Quimbo said, Pag-ibig paid the national government P2.2 billion in taxes after the agency made P10 billion in net income.

“This is why I am saddened by the reports of anomalies and the depletion of funds,” he said.

“During my term, we strictly instituted a program to allow taxi drivers and vendors to avail themselves of socialized housing, but we put in place safeguards and internal control. These were religiously observed, but after I left, I have yet to find out what happened.”

Barzaga said the officials of Global Asiatique Realty Holdings Corp. would also be summoned. The company is the accredited developer of the pilot program for “Other Working Groups,” or self-employed workers.

“The [Other Working Groups] were given various amounts ranging from P2,000 to P4,000 in exchange for signing documents, which turned out to be housing loans amounting to P750,000,” Barzaga said.

In some cases, he said, the supposed borrowers were ineligible for membership in the Pag-IBIG Fund, were dead at the time of the loan application, or could not be located.

Christine Herrera, Manila Standard Today
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