DEMANDED P200-M COMMISSION FROM BELLE CORP SALE" -- BELLE
Jailed former President Joseph Estrada demanded a
P200-million commission from the proceeds of a sale of Belle
Corp. shares to two state pension funds in 1999, a former Belle
official said yesterday.
Testifying in Estrada’s plunder trial before the anti-graft
court Sandiganbayan, former Belle president Willie Ocier said
Estrada demanded the commission so that the Government Service
Insurance System (GSIS) and the Social Security System (SSS)
would purchase the shares.
The shares were the 447,650,000 shares that its owner, former
Belle chairman Roberto Ongpin, had been planning to sell to
estranged Estrada buddy Mark Jimenez, now a Manila congressman.
The sale would supposedly help settle the debt load of Belle, a
leisure and gaming firm that was then listed on the Philippine
Ocier said the sale to Jimenez was canceled after he and his
father Benito Tan Guat ousted Ongpin from the Belle board and
initiated moves to sell the shares to a foreign buyer.
Ocier said that his uncle, former Belle director Jaime Dichaves,
a co-accused in Estrada’s plunder charge, was the one who
brought up the idea of getting the pension fund agencies to
purchase the shares in a meeting of Belle’s board of directors
on July 20, 1999.
Dichaves supposedly suggested the shares be sold to the GSIS and
SSS, Ocier claimed.
"When I told him that I cannot do it because the shares
will be sold, we agreed to divide the work. I agreed to contact
the foreign buyers while he will handle the local brokers,"
After a few weeks, Ocier said Dichaves told him that there was a
strong chance the GSIS and SSS would purchase the shares and
that Estrada had already spoken with former GSIS president and
general manager Federico Pascual and former SSS chairman and
president Carlos Arellano.
"Dichaves later called me up and told me that the GSIS and
SSS transactions may push through. Dichaves told me that there
is a certain condition pertaining to a profit commission on the
transactions," Ocier told the court.
"According to Dichaves, the commission was being imposed by
President Estrada," Ocier added.
Ocier claimed he told Dichaves that the commission allegedly
being demanded by Estrada "was quite a big amount"
because the normal commission was around three to five percent.
"But Dichaves told me that it was the condition set by
Estrada. So I was compelled to agree because that was the
condition imposed by the former president," Ocier said.
Ocier said the sale was consummated on Oct. 21, 1999 when the
block of shares was sold to the GSIS and SSS for P3.10 per
share, or a total of almost P2 billion.
The sale, he testified, was facilitated by SSI Management, one
of the owners of Belle Corp., and Eastern Securities and
Development Corp., both companies allegedly linked to Ocier’s
"The owners of the SSI Management called me up. I was told
that there should be a check prepared in the amount of P189.7
million. The amount was drawn from the account of SSI Management
in the First Exchange Bank," he said, adding the check were
signed by his sister Nancy and his father Tan Guat.
"The check was prepared to be delivered to Dichaves. He was
supposed to be the recipient of the check. According to Dichaves,
President Estrada will get the commission," Ocier
Meanwhile, the trial was cut short because Justice Teresita
Leonardo-de Castro, who chairs the Sandiganbayan’s third
division vice Justice (on leave) Anacleto Badoy, had to attend a
meeting at the Supreme Court.
The SC had summoned the chairmen of the anti-graft court’s
five divisions to a meeting that would supposedly tackle the
charges against Estrada.
Fourth division chairman Justice Narciso Nario, who is sitting
in as temporary member of the third division, said the SC may
create a special division to handle the Estrada cases because at
least four Sandiganbayan justices are set to retire this year.
NO MORE FREEBIES, TRAVELING GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS TOLD
MalacaÑAng has ordered all government officials and
employees to turn down travels funded either fully or partially
by private contractors and suppliers of goods, equipment and
The directive was contained in a memorandum signed by Executive
Secretary Alberto Romulo, which covers all heads of departments,
bureaus, national and local government units, government-owned
and -controlled corporations, financial institutions, and state
colleges and universities.
It is a normal practice by local and foreign contractors to
invite agency heads and officials for supposed inspections where
they are wined and dined.
Romulo's memorandum was a reiteration of a memorandum issued by
then President Joseph Estrada on Oct. 20, 1999, which aimed to
"ensure utmost impartiality and objectivity in the award of
contracts for the purchase and delivery of goods, equipment and
The same Estrada memorandum said this prohibition is "in
line with the state policy to promote a high standard of ethics
in the public service."
In his own memorandum, Romulo said the reiteration of this
directive is also in line with efforts to "promote and
secure strict and faithful compliance... with various policy
pronouncements on austerity measures including expenditure of
public funds for foreign travels."
DAVAO KIDNAP VICTIMS RESCUED
Police on Tuesday afternoon rescued three women abducted
by suspected members of the "Pentagon" kidnap group in
Davao last Thursday, a radio report said.
The rescued kidnap victims – Maria Cecilia Bonifacio, a
daughter of a prominent Davao businessman, her househelp Fe
Jayno and Jayno's aunt Norma – are currently in the custody of
the Davao police after a rescue team raided the kidnappers' safe
house in Hagonoy, Davao del Sur.
Five kidnappers were arrested in the raid, the report further
The same kidnap gang is still holding captive Italian Catholic
priest Giuseppe Pierantoni, who was abducted on Oct. 17 in
Zamboanga del Sur. It also kidnapped four Chinese nationals and
their Filipino guide last year. Two of the Chinese were killed
in a rescue attempt while another escaped. The other was
released allegedly after ransom payments.
POLICE LAUNCH MANHUNT FOR ITALIAN IN RAPE CASE
BAGUIO – Police authorities have launched a manhunt for
an Italian man who is a suspect in the rape of a Filipina girl,
an officer said Tuesday.
Police in this northern mountain resort named the suspect as
Mauro Diamante, 58.
The suspect allegedly raped the 12-year-old stepdaughter of a
Filipino friend in Baguio last year when he was staying at the
The Baguio police criminal investigation chief, Supt. Generoso
Bonifacio, said they were checking whether Diamante had fled the
The Philippines and Italy do not have an extradition treaty.
Diamante arrived in Baguio in October, but the alleged rape was
discovered only last month when the victim told her mother about
the assault, police said.
By that time the suspect had left the house of his hosts,
telling them he was going abroad, Bonifacio said.
LTO MULLS PHASEOUT OF OLD VEHICLES IN METRO MANILA
The Land Transportation Office (LTO) is considering
phasing out public and private vehicles in Metro Manila that are
more than five years old, LTO spokesman Superintendent Generoso
Tocino told radio dzBB on Tuesday that Outgoing LTO chief Ret.
Gen. Edgardo Abenina made the proposal to reduce pollution in
the metropolis as well as ease the traffic situation.
"Abenina had been wanting the gradual phasing out of all
vehicles that are more than five years old and (which are)
contributing to the pollution," he said.
Tocino added that the plan to phase out the vehicles as well as
other programs of Abenina would be continued by incoming LTO and
former police chief Roberto Lastimoso.
Abenina resigned from the LTO amid accusations of corruption by
his former colleagues at the rebel group Reform the Armed Forces
Movement. He denied the allegation, insisting that his projects
were all directed to rid the transport office of corrupt
The turnover ceremonies for the new transport chief is scheduled
Tocino said there are "no hard feelings" between
Abenina and Lastimoso.
BLACK NAZARENE FIESTA IN QUIAPO
Manila Mayor Lito Atienza ordered the Western Police
District to beef up security personnel as devotees are expected
to flock to Quiapo to participate in the celebration of
the Feast of Black Nazarene, Quiapo’s patron saint.
In his order to WPD director Chief Superintendent Nicolas
Pasinos and WPD-Traffic Enforcement Group (TEG) chief
Superintendent Elmer Jamias, Atienza said the police should
guard against criminal elements that would take advantage of the
Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims will flock to Quiapo to
celebrate the Feast of the Black Nazarene which is traditionally
brought out of the Basilica in a religious procession of
Authorities expect traffic jams along the route of the
procession which starts at 2 p.m. and lasts until sundown.
The revered image of the cross-bearing black Jesus Christ is
brought out of the church for a procession only twice a year: on
the 9th day of January and on Black Friday.
Fiesta organizers said the procession for this year, which
starts at the entrance of the Basilica in Plaza Miranda, will
pass through the streets of Villalobos, Carlos Palanca, P.
Gomez, P. Paterno, Quezon Boulevard, Globo de Oro, Gunao,
Arlegui, Fraternal, Vergara, Duque de Alba, Castillejos,
Farnecio, Concepcion Aguila, Carcer, R. Hidalgo, Bilibid Viejo,
G. Puyat, Mendoza and Barbosa in Quiapo district.
CURFEW FOR MINORS IN MUNTINLUPA
It will soon be goodbye to all out partying for
Muntinlupa’s teenagers who fill up the watering holes of
Makati, Ortigas and Malate.
This after the Muntinlupa City council is set to approve a
controversial ordinance imposing a curfew on teenagers 17 years
old and below next week.
In a statement, the Muntinlupa City government said it expects
the ordinance to be fully implemented by the barangay council to
be formed soon.
The body will be known as the Barangay Curfew Hour Enforcement
Council (BCHEC) which would oversee the enforcement of the
ordinance in the city’s nine barangays.
The proposed law, an amended version of the city’s 1988 curfew
ordinance, took about a year to be passed. The 1988 law was not
The BCHEC is among the innovations of the new curfew ordinance
authored by Councilor Ike dela Rea.
Under the ordinance, those aged 17 an below are barred from the
streets of Muntinlupa between 11 a.m. to 4 a.m. except in
"extreme emergency cases and abnormal conditions."
Violators would be detained in barangay holding centers.
As punishment, violators would be required to render two-hour
community service and orientation on the importance of the
curfew. Second and third offenders would do community work for
four and eight hours, respectively, aside from the orientation.
Third time offenders would be detained at youth reformatory
OYO BOY IN CAR MISHAP
After the tragic car accident of Vandolph Quizon, another
young actor has been involved in a car mishap. Oyo Boy Sotto,
son of Vic Sotto and Dina Bonnevie, acquired minor scratches
when he got into a car accident while trotting his way home
inside the UP campus in Diliman, QC. The young actor's car
supposedly crashed into a lamppost while avoiding hitting an
owner type jeep driven by a certain Vicente Sareno.
The two are okay but they are both to be charged with reckless
imprudence resulting to property damage by the PNP. Meanwhile,
rumors also has it that Vic and Dina are planning to sue the
driver Vicente for the incident and for supposedly giving
negative statement against the actor's family, which was what
the driver has been greatly avoiding.