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LEGACY BANKS’ WOES WORRY ILONGGO INVESTORS

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

SINCE Saturday, Lady (not her real name) thought of committing suicide after learning that seven banks under the Legacy Group of Rural Banks declared bank holiday.

 

Lady, a merchant in Iloilo City, is just one of the hundreds of investors of Legacy Group of Co. owned by a certain Celso de los Angeles, incumbent mayor of a town in Bicol region.

 

Her more than P15-million investment is in danger of going down the drain after the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) placed 10 rural banks affiliated with the Legacy group under the receivership of the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation (PDIC).

 

The banks that were taken over were:

 

1. Philippine Countryside Rural Bank (PCRB) with branches in Mandaue City, Lapu-Lapu City and Liloan in Cebu,

2. Bank of East Asia based in Minglanilla, Cebu

3. First Interstate Bank in Tacloban City.

4. Rural Bank of Paranaque

5. Rural Bank of Bais in Negros Oriental

6. Pilipino Rural Bank (with branches in Mandaue and Argao in Cebu and Tagbilaran City in Bohol)

7. Rural Bank of San Jose in Batangas.

 

The BSP said in a statement that it had been monitoring these banks well before the global financial crisis began, because of potentially unsafe and unsound banking practices.

 

Lady asked not to be identified for the meantime to protect her family and avoid embarrassment.

 

Lady said she was convinced to invest more than P15 million in Legacy group sometime in 2002 after De los Angeles enticed them with the “double your money” scheme in three years.

 

The investment went into Legacy Scholarship Pension Plans, Inc. which acquired two other pre-need companies, All Asia Plans, Inc. and Consolidated Plans, Inc. in 2002.

 

Lady said she has to mortgage her properties in order to come up with a capital for Legacy group and enjoy the “double your money” scheme.

 

When she heard that Legacy rural banks folded and taken over by the government, Lady feared that her hard-earned money in the last 29 years would go up in smoke.

 

Lady said her investments and that of more than 100 investors might go down the drain since the banks are tied to Legacy plans and its affiliate company, One Card, which specializes in credit card services. 

 

“I was thinking of committing suicide because of what happened. They assured that the banks were liquid with P500 million in trust funds. But why did this happen? We felt like pigs that were fattened for six years only to be slaughtered in the end,” she said.

 

Lady said she cannot transfer some of her earnings to other banks for fear of money-laundering charges aside from the assurance of Legacy that business was solid.

 

Legacy also retained Lady’s certificate of time deposit with the rural banks as part of the investment agreement.

 

The interest on her investment came not in form of cash but items offered by Legacy such as cars, Lady added.

 

“My child also tried to commit suicide when we learned what happened. We even heard stories that another investor who forked P100 million to Legacy already committed suicide. But that is not confirmed,” she said.

 

Yesterday, Lady said she and other investors in Iloilo and Negros received assurance from a certain Edgardo Cando, Legacy senior vice president for Visayas-Mindanao, that their principal investments will be returned to them.

 

Top brass from Legacy will also arrive in Iloilo and Negros on December 19 and 20, respectively, to confer with the investors on how to return their money.

 

“What I want is to get back my money because we have nothing left. If Legacy cannot make good of their word, then we will come out and sue them. We ask the government to help us,” she said.

 

The Legacy banks folded a week after the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order on enforcement of lower court rulings that favored the so-called “Legacy Group banks.”

 

The high tribunal’s decision effectively gave the BSP the green light to act on adverse findings made during their last examination of the 10 financial institutions scattered around the country.

 

The financial institutions covered by the SC ruling are Rural Bank of Parañaque Inc., Rural Bank of San Jose (Batangas) Inc., Rural Bank of Carmen (Cebu) Inc., Pilipino Rural Bank Inc., Philippine Countryside Rural Bank Inc., Rural Bank of Calatagan (Batangas) Inc. (now Dynamic Rural Bank), Rural Bank of DARBCI Inc., Rural Bank of Kananga (Leyte) Inc. (now First Interstate Rural Bank), Rural Bank of Bisayas Minglanilla (now Bank of East Asia), and San Pablo City Development Bank Inc.

 

Except for San Pablo City Development Bank, all were found by BSP examiners to be undercapitalized during their latest audit done on July 31, 2007.

 

Banking sources say the 10 rural banks hold a combined P12 billion in deposits, comprising 11 percent of the P108.1 billion in deposits held by the country’s 2,011 rural banks.

 

They were found to have an aggregate capital deficiency of P2.5 billion. The banks all operate under the aegis of the Legacy Group, which is primarily involved in selling pre-need plans.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE New People’s Army (NPA) bombed a cellsite of Globe Telecom in Negros Occidental over the weekend to force the firm to pay P88 million in “back revolutionary taxes.”

 

The latest bombing happened at Brgy. Mabini, Escalante City Saturday afternoon which destroyed P2-million cellsite tower of Globe.

 

Based on police reports from Escalante City, the NPA has threatened to bomb the Escalante cellsite if the telecom giant fails to pay revolutionary taxes. The threats came true over the weekend.

 

Escalante police chief Santiago Rapiz said the rebels used an improvised explosive device on the cellsite.

 

The blast wrecked the power room and the perimeter fence of the cellsite, investigators said.

 

This is the second time that the Escalante City cellsite was bombed, the first one was in 2003.

 

Capt. Lowen Gil Marquez, chief of the AFP Civil Relations Service in Western Visayas, confirmed the P88-million demanded by the NPA from Globe.

 

Marquez said the bombing is also part of rebel operations relative to the upcoming anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front December 26.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE homeowners of Metropolis Subdivision in Jaro, Iloilo City are willing to talk with officials of Brgy. Bito-on regarding the curfew imposed on the gated community.

 

The daily curfew, which takes effect 10pm to 5am, was imposed by the Metropolis Homeowners Association (MHA) for security purposes.

 

In an interview over Serbisyo Publiko hosted by Iloilo City Councilor Perla Zulueta Sunday, Atty. Perla Gauzon, MHA president, said they imposed the curfew after several commotions involving non-Metropolis residents happened in their community the past months.

 

Gauzon said they imposed the curfew because the developer Sta. Lucia Realty and Development, Inc. has yet to finish the perimeter wall of the subdivision.

 

The curfew prompted some residents to blockade the subdivision’s south gate leading to the coastal road area last December 2.

 

The residents said the curfew barred them from using the Metropolis Avenue when going towards coastal road and back.

 

Barangay officials led by Punong Barangay Raymundo Juntado dismantled the barricade with the help of the Jaro police.

 

Atty. Dennis Ventilacion, MHA immediate past president, said they are now fine tuning their curfew regulation to accommodate the residents who want to use the subdivision’s road.

 

The homeowners are also talking with Sta. Lucia Realty to finish the perimeter wall for the security of the residents.

 

Gauzon said they also had issues with the residents of Brgys. Bito-on and Tacas before “but we were able to resolve things through dialogues.”

 

(Serbisyo Publiko airs live over Sky Cable Channel 13 every Sunday, 10 am to 12 noon. Replays are: Sunday, Tuesday and Saturday – 8 to 10 pm; Thursday – 12 noon to 2pm)

‘Consumers can expect interest on their money’

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

PANAY Electric Co. (Peco), Iloilo City’s sole power distributor, will start refunding the meter deposits, amounting to some P26 million in principal alone, of almost 50,000 consumers January 2009.

 

But how much will the consumers receive from the distribution utility?

 

Engr. Randy Pastolero, executive assistant to Peco president Miguel Cacho, said the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) set three formulas for the computation of meter deposit interest outlined in ERC Resolution No. 8-2008.

 

Residential customers as well as non-residential customers who paid their meter deposits prior to the implementation of Energy Regulatory Board (ERB) Resolution 95-21 will earn 6% percent interest per year. ERB Resolution 95-21 is the standard rules governing electrical power services promulgated September 22, 1995.

 

The second formula was based on Resolution No. 95-21 when the ERB validated that meter deposit and the interest rate at that time was 10% per year. The ERB is the predecessor of the ERC which regulates power producers, distributors and other players in the energy industry.

 

When the ERC was created, the commission issued the Magna Carta for Residential Electricity Consumers and the Distribution Services which pegged the interest rates for meter deposits at 6% per year starting year 2005.

 

Pastolero said they have no choice but to refund the meter deposits of their consumers “because we were ordered by our regulator to do so.”

 

Consumers have three options on how to avail the refund – cash refund through a check issued by Peco; application of the refund on outstanding accountability of the consumer; or use the refund for future billings. 

 

What if a consumer already died? To whom will the refund go?

 

Pastolero said the heirs of the dead consumers are entitled for the refund provided they present the death certificate of the consumer and identification documents.

 

The Peco executive said they will schedule the release of refund to avoid consumers from crowding their office.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Civil Service Commission (CSC) altered the decision of the Iloilo provincial government to sack a jail guard for the shooting to death of a man in Badiangan, Iloilo six years ago.

 

In Resolution No. 081982 promulgated November 4, 2008, the CSC modified the April 12, 2005 decision signed by Governor Niel Tupas Sr. finding Iloilo Rehabilitation Center (IRC) Provincial Guard 2 Eliazar Elisan guilty of grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service and dismissing him from government service.

 

The commission instead indicted Elisan for simple neglect of duty and suspended him for three months without pay.

 

The resolution was signed by CSC chair Ricardo Saludo and commissioners Mary Ann Fernandez-Mendoza and Cesar Buenaflor.

 

Elisan, who was represented by lawyer Dennis Ventilacion, was charged with the administrative case before the Office of the Governor for the shooting to death of Alex Collado during a benefit dance at Brgy. Cabanga-an, Badiangan last December 31, 2002.

 

The shooting incident happened around 11pm when a commotion broke out between a certain Allan Ahumada and Angot Adorador inside the basketball court where the affair was held.

 

Elisan at that time was off duty and stayed at the sari-sari store of Collado some 15-20 meters from the scene of the commotion.

 

Punong Barangay Vivencio Villa then asked Elisan to pacify the fracas which the latter did by going near the scene and fired his caliber .45 service pistol thrice.

 

Collado was hit resulting to his death. Alejandro Adorador was also wounded in the shooting.

 

After Collado’s wife filed a formal complaint, Tupas ordered a fact-finding investigation on the incident the result of which became the basis for the filing of administrative charges against Elisan January 23, 2003.

 

On the same date, Tupas also placed Elisan under 60-day preventive suspension.

 

The hearings on the case stretched from January 2003 to January 7, 2005. On April 12, 2005, Elisan was found guilty and ordered dismissed from service.

 

The IRC guard filed a motion for reconsideration June 6, 2005 but it was denied. He then filed his appeal with the CSC June 25, 2005.

 

The commission said Elisan’s act of firing his gun during the commotion “does not constitute grave misconduct as the firearm of Elisan was aimed directly or directed not to a particular person, being warning shots only, but to the air.”

 

“It was not proven that Elisan fired directly at Collado. Neither was it proven that the bullet from his firearm caused the wounding of Adorador. Thus, the negligent act that can be attributed to Elisan was the indiscriminate firing of his gun, which although not shown to be the proximate cause of the fatal incidents, was nonetheless uncalled for and dangerous considering the many people present during the incident and possibility that the bullets fired may hit somebody once the same fall back to the ground,” the CSC resolution said.

By Tara Yap and Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

IS love triangle the likely motive behind the brutal murder of a 16-year-old high school student of Central Philippine University (CPU) last week?

 

The LaPaz police initially eyed plain robbery as the reason for the death of Buenaventura “Ben-Ben” Peregil Jr. of Petalsville Subdivision, Jaro, Iloilo City who was found dead with 13 stab wounds in his body inside LaPaz public plaza Wednesday last week.

 

Senior Insp. Alexander Rosales, LaPaz police chief, said it is probable that the suspects were high on drugs.

 

But based on information gathered by The Daily Guardian, Peregil’s death may have something to do with a mysterious female text mate he was supposed to meet at the public plaza that fateful Wednesday evening.

 

According to a witness of the LaPaz police, Peregil received a warning from his girl text mate not to stay any longer at the plaza because “they will kill you.”

 

Peregil’s grandmother Gloria said that was the information they got from police investigators during their conversation Thursday.

 

The identity of the text mate remains unknown because Peregil’s cellphone is missing until now.

 

Rosales said they are pursuing all angles to the case now that they have found several witnesses who related what happened to the victim.

 

Peregil was the only son of Lilibeth Peregil, who works in Hong Kong as a domestic helper. He was raised by his grandmother Gloria and Aunt Anita since a toddler as his mother would send money from Hong Kong to sustain his needs. 

 

Months before his death, the victim almost got robbed also at LaPaz plaza but did not tell his grandmother and aunt about it.

 

Peregil’s remains now lie at their home in Petalsville Subdivision.

Grandma: Why was my grandson slaughtered like pig?

 

By Tara Yap and Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

“ANO sala sang bata nga daw baboy pag patay sa  iya?” (What did the child do that he was slaughtered like a pig?) Gloria Peregil asked while holding back her tears.

 

The 70-year-old grandmother of Buenaventura “Ben-Ben” Peregil Jr. is shocked at the manner of his untimely demise.

 

The senior high school student of Central Philippine University (CPU) and resident of Petalsville Subdivision, Jaro died from 13 stab wounds in La Paz Plaza Wednesday night. 

 

Mrs. Peregil remains to wonder why Ben-Ben was in La Paz plaza Wednesday night when he sent a text message to his aunt Anita past 6:30pm informing that he was in Bankers Village in Jaro district studying with classmates for their 3rd grading exams. 

 

Mrs. Peregil added she couldn’t understand why her grandson was there in La Paz Plaza again when he almost became a victim of a holdup months earlier. Ben-Ben apparently kept quiet about the incident but told close relatives while on vacation in Silay City, Negros Occidental last November. 

 

However, the family also speculates the involvement of Ben-Ben’s mysterious girl text mate, whom he supposedly met that night. The grandmother believes this mysterious text mate can shed light to what happened.

 

Mrs. Peregil told The Daily Guardian that Ben-Ben was a good kid and had no enemies.  She said he was very friendly and treated his friends with sincerity.

 

She also remembered Ben-Ben’s heroism during typhoon Frank that saved her and her 72-year-old husband. She said Ben-Ben made a makeshift rope out of blankets to tie around their waists unto a reclining bed, which rescued them from drowning or swept away by the strong current.

 

The victim planned to take up a course in culinary arts or train in cooking as he wanted to work as cook in an international cruise liner. His grandmother recalled that he was fond of cooking sinigang na bangus, puchero and guisado.  

 

Ben-Ben was the only son of single mother Lilibeth Peregil, who works in Hong Kong as a domestic helper.  He was raised by his grandmother Gloria and Aunt Anita since a toddler as his mother would send money from Hong Kong to sustain his needs. 

 

The La Paz police said they have identified the suspects in Peregil’s murder.

 

Senior Insp. Alexander Rosales, LaPaz police chief, said several witnesses have surfaced and helped them identify the culprits.

 

Rosales said it is possible the suspects were drug crazed as indicated by the 12 stab wounds in Peregil’s body.

 

“Based on our investigation, the victim left Gaisano City Mall to meet his friends at the plaza. We continue to conduct follow up operations so that we can arrest the suspects as soon as possible,” Rosales said.

 

Rosales said he has assigned two police officers to patrol LaPaz plaza at night to prevent crimes from happening in the area.

 

Most of the lights in the plaza were destroyed by typhoon Frank last June although Rosales said the City government and Panay Power Corp. pledged to replace the damaged lights.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

WILL another call center investor pull out from Iloilo City because of expensive electricity?

 

Reports came out yesterday that Callbox, Inc., the first business processes outsourcing (BPO) investor in the city, is planning to transfer its Iloilo operations to another location.

 

The main reason is the expensive power rates of Panay Electric Co. (Peco), the sole power distributor in the city.

 

Top Callbox officials headed by chief executive officer Rom Agustin met Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas to discuss their concerns regarding the city’s power situation.

 

Treñas confirmed the meeting with Callbox executives who raised their concerns about the city’s expensive power rates.

 

“Namahalan na gid sila (They find it very expensive). But they did not broach the possibility of relocating to other areas,” Treñas said.

 

Treñas said he will try to help resolve the issue to save the employment generated by the BPO firm.

 

Callbox sources said they are also wondering why brownouts continue to happen despite Peco’s high rate of electricity presently pegged at P13 per kilowatt-hour.

 

But Glen Norris, Callbox chief operating officer, said the report on their plans to leave Iloilo is “interesting but not true.”

 

“We are not leaving,” Norris said in a text message.

 

Expensive power rates is one of the main stumbling blocks to Iloilo’s investment growth as pointed out by previous Philippine Cities Competitiveness surveys conducted by the Asian Institute of Management (AIM).

 

According to its official website, Callbox is a full service sales and marketing firm that provides outbound and inbound sales solutions, creative marketing support, and database services.

 

Callbox complements the sales process of businesses, enabling them to accelerate revenue growth and market capture with its global database and cutting-edge service delivery systems. By providing valuable insight on best practices and top notch sales support, Callbox allows businesses to focus on developing their products and services.

 

Launched in Los Angeles, California, Callbox provides global market access to leading industries such as software and technology services, financial, medical and business services from its offices in the US, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, the United Kingdom and the Philippines.

 

Callbox is operating in the cities of Iloilo, Davao and Makati.

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