The mysterious case of lawyer Catalino Generillo

The mysterious case of lawyer Catalino Generillo

By Solita Collas-Monsod
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:03:00 09/12/2009

Catalino Aldea Generillo Jr., who broke into the public’s consciousness as a special counsel of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), got fired for doing a good job. But he is fighting on. Earlier this week he wrote a letter to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in the belief that it is his sacred duty to call her attention to the “appalling conduct of the PCGG and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) in Civil Case No. 005.” Civil Case No. 005 is entitled “Republic of the Philippines vs Estate of Ferdinand Marcos et al.” It was filed at the Sandiganbayan in 1987 and, by its number, it is one of the first cases of unexplained wealth filed after the People Power Revolt. There are 29 individual defendants and 40 corporate defendants in this case, which is probably why it took almost 17 years to reach the pre-trial stage, and another two years to start its actual trial.

The case made the headlines, not least because Lucio Tan and Imelda Marcos are among the defendants, and Tan’s corporations are among the corporate defendants (e.g., Allied Bank, Fortune Tobacco, Asia Brewery). What made it even more conspicuous is that Ms Marcos filed a cross-complaint against her co-defendant Tan, claiming among others that the Marcos heirs owned 60 percent of Tan’s corporate assets, and she presented documentary evidence to that effect. The Sandiganbayan did not give due course to the cross-complaint, nor did the Supreme Court.

So what is Generillo’s beef? What does he consider “appalling” conduct by the PCGG and the OSG? He is outraged that these agencies have been sitting on the offer of Mariano Tanenglian, one of the defendants in the case and the brother of Tan, to be a government witness in exchange for immunity. Apparently, there had been meetings earlier this year, and on July 18, 2009, Tanenglian’s lawyers formally discussed with PCGG officials his offer to testify for the government.

One would think that the PCGG and OSG would have grabbed the chance to have as witness for the prosecution somebody who figuratively knew exactly where all the bodies were buried. After all, Tanenglian, until he was booted out of the Lucio Tan group this year, was treasurer or held the equivalent position in all of its companies. But nothing happened. So one month later, on Aug. 19, the lawyers of Tanenglian reiterated their offer, only to be met by another blank wall of silence. Thus Generillo’s Sept. 8 letter to the President.

Is Generillo just a case of sour grapes because he was fired from the PCGG? Or more accurately, because his deputation as special counsel was not renewed late last year? (The deputation is done every six months.) Therein lies an interesting tale.

First, let’s look at Generillo’s background. He was with the Philippine National Bank (PNB) since 1973, when he passed its entrance exams—one of 200 who qualified out of 6,000 applicants. Starting as bank examiner, he worked his way up to vice president, at the same time, studying law (graduating magna cum laude from Lyceum) and passing the bar in 1983. He left PNB in 1999, taking advantage of an early retirement package, and started his private practice.
In 2001, he heard Haydee Yorac, newly-appointed chair of the PCGG, over the radio, bemoaning its lack of good lawyers, and sounding the call for public service. He immediately wrote her. She must have been impressed with his qualifications and interview, because she promptly hired him. He stayed on after she left, and was assigned to Civil Case 005 in January 2001, when the lawyer handling it resigned.

And that’s where he started getting into trouble. He apparently did more homework than most on the case, because he uncovered more evidence and interviewed more possible witnesses—a fact which obviously did not sit well with the Tan side, and less obviously with the PCGG and the OSG. A news report has Generillo claiming that he had to overcome the reluctance of both the PCGG and Solicitor General Agnes Devanadera before he could present Bongbong Marcos as a hostile witness to help confirm the alleged “special concessions” obtained by Tan from Marcos.
He also found previously undiscovered documents from the Malacañang Museum with the help of its director, Jeremy Barnes, who he also put on the witness stand—documents like a letter written to Marcos (signed by Tanenglian) in 1984, asking him to approve a deposit of $50 million by the Central Bank to Allied Bank, and another letter requesting tax exemption for 100 million bottles for Asia Brewery—both approved by marginal notation. It took three days for the court to mark all the new documents.

Moreover, he impleaded as witness a former PNB executive who testified that Tan was given special treatment, both by the PNB (a P300-million line of credit when P200 million was the single-borrower’s limit), and the CB.

This burst of activity from a heretofore lackadaisical PCGG may have prompted Estelito Mendoza, Tan’s defense lawyer, to write a letter to the PCGG, pointing out that while the OSG is supposed to be representing the PCGG in all cases, yet it was Generillo prosecuting, “indeed, apparently controlling the prosecution of the case.” He then asked for a copy of Generillo’s designation as special counsel and his authority to prosecute the case.

That letter was written on Nov. 17, 2008. Generillo’s deputation as special counsel was not renewed as of the end of November 2008. Draw your own conclusions.


Anonymous said...

Hindi kami tao ni Atty. Mendoza

Anonymous said...

The ghost of Marcos
By Benjamin Pimentel

Most Read
CALIFORNIA, United States—My column on Ferdinand Marcos struck a nerve. And that’s good. It serves as a wake-up call, even for me.

Now, to be sure, online reader comments, most of which are anonymous on this site, are not typically reliable in gauging the public mood. Still, there are valuable insights from the reactions, including the bitterly angry responses from Marcos’s admirers.

One thing is clear from the reactions: There’s much frustration out there, with the corruption, with the chaotic, dishonest politics, with the rampant inequality in Philippine society.

Anonymous said...

How to lose a PCGG case
By Solita Collas-Monsod
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:14:00 09/19/2009

This has to be another one of those “only in the Philippines” situations. In last week’s column, I wrote that Mariano Tanenglian, Lucio Tan’s younger brother, had offered to be a witness for the government in its case (Civil Case 005) against 29 individual defendants including Ferdinand Marcos, Lucio Tan and Tanenglian himself—in exchange for immunity from prosecution. His lawyers had met with the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG)—Camilo Sabio, Ricardo Abcede, Tereso Javier and Narciso Nario attending—together with representatives of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) on July 13, 2009 to discuss the details, including a draft of the immunity agreement that they had prepared. Apparently, the meeting ended with the government side agreeing in principle to the draft agreement, and the only thing that was needed to seal the deal was the formal opinion of the OSG on the matter.

Such opinion did not materialize, and a follow-up letter was sent by the (new) Tanenglian lawyers on Aug. 19—but it was again met with a blank wall of silence.