Calling a Spade - Conclusion

Calling A Spade... -- By Solita Collas-Monsod


I asked Catalino Generillo where he obtained the documentary evidence of the links between Lucio Tan and Ferdinand Marcos. Generillo was the PCGG lawyer hired by Haydee Yorac way back in 2001, who in 2007 was assigned to handle PCGG’s long-running Civil Case 005 (filed in 1987, reached trial stage in 2006), which seeks to show that Marcos was (majority) owner of Lucio Tan’s enterprises.

In 1998, Imelda Marcos filed a manifestation in which she admitted that her husband owned 60% of the Tan empire, and in 2001, she filed a cross complaint against her co-defendant Lucio Tan because of his refusal to hand over the shares of stock for which she held the deeds of assignment. The wonder of it is that the PCGG did not immediately take advantage of these developments, and it was only when Generillo took over the case that things started to pop. For his excellent performance, PCGG, at the request of the OSG, terminated his employment. The second wonder of it is that our legislature, which generally calls for investigations at the drop of a hat, has remained mute, with not one opinion being given on the case, one way or another.

Generillo’s reply was that the documents were subpoenaed from the BSP and from the Malacañang Museum at his request, which makes one ponder on why these very rich sources of evidence were not tapped by the PCGG before Generillo came on the scene.

Last week’s column reprinted a couple of these documents, circa 1977, which leads one to the inevitable conclusion that it was Marcos’s intervention with the PNB and what was known as the Central Bank of the Philippines (now BSP) that enabled Tan to acquire what is now known as the Allied Banking Corporation.

In this concluding portion, I reprint two other documents, this time dated seven and five years later (the relationship Marcos-Tan relationship obviously was of long standing): the first shows how Marcos intervened once again to save Allied Bank from its foreign creditors at the height of the country’s debt crisis in 1984; and the second, dated 1982, shows that Marcos helped Tan in his other enterprises as well. Given such evidence, a third wonder appears: Why does the PCGG proclaim that its case against Tan as a dummy for Marcos is weak?

"May 9, 1984
"His Excellency Ferdinand E Marcos
"President, Republic of the Philippines
"Malacanang Palace, Manila
"Dear Mr. President:
"We wish to inform you that the Allied Banking Corporation (ABC) has been and continues to be an active supporter of loan syndications for our Central Bank and the different instrumentalities of the Government of the Philippines.
"Among such syndicated loan participations are
"To fund the above loans, ABC had successfully borrowed from the Eurdollar centers, particularly from the Middle East market through ABAC’s Bahrain Branch. ABC’s borrowing capability from these markets was greatly impaired by the moratorium declared by our Government, to the extent that collection suits have been threatened and initiated by some Middle East and European banks against ABC. A particular collection suit even resulted in the actual seizure of ABC’s foreign funds in New York by way of an order of attachment.
"To this day, these banks continue with their threats and demands for immediate repayment of the principal, interest and penalties.
"Sheikh Ebrahim Al Khalifa, Deputy Governor of the Bahrain Monetary Agency, had to make a visit to our country on March 12, 1984, for the sole purpose of seeking a solution to this debt problem. He impressed upon Prime Minister Cesar Virata, Trade Minister Roberto Ongpin, and CB Governor Jose B. Fernandez, Jr. that these Middle East and European Banks are not willing to maintain their deposits with ABC Bahrein, contending that these are interbank placements which should not be covered by the moratorium.
"Sheikh Khalifa added that since the Gulf States are a well-knit group, he fears that this unresolved banking issue may have a repercussion on the Philippine market for manpower exports to the Middle East, which is now a major source of vital foreign exchange.
"ABC’s predicament is unique in the local banking industry, since only ABC has actively participated in the Government’s foreign borrowing program. A request by ABC for a prepayhment of its lendings to the Government will surely jeopardize the rescheduling process, as this will give undue preference to ABC to the detriment of other syndicate lenders.
"Thus, it is respectfully requested that the Central Bank make deposits to ABC, in an amount equivalent to the above listed loans, which ABC shall use to pay its Middle Eastern and European creditors. To the extent that Central Bank will be unable to deposit the total amount required, it is respectfully requested that the uncovered balance be considered eligible as reserves against deposit liabilities under Section 1254 (b) of the Manual of Regulations for Banks and other Financial Intermediaries, on the princple that the promissory notes evidencying ABC’s lendings to these various government instrumentalities are obligations of the Government and therefore should be treated as government securities.
"We trust that His Excellency will find the foregoing request in order and will extend to it his favorable consideration.
"(sgd) ROMEO Y. CO



"Treasurer & Director"

The letter has a marginal note at the upper right hand corner, in the handwriting and with the signature of Ferdinand Marcos which says:

"May 10,1984

"To Gov. J. Fernandez

"I believe the proposal is acceptable --


I WANT to emphasize the obvious: 1) The government had declared a moratorium on foreign debt payments. Where does an ordinary commercial bank get off writing a letter to the President, bypassing the Central Bank completely, and asking for an accommodation that would be so clearly detrimental to the country, and if discovered, weaken the country’s negotiating position even further? The justification given for the request is patently ridiculous -- that ABC had participated in the syndicated foreign loans to the Philippines for altruistic rather than profit motives. 2) The letter even admits that such intervention would impose a risk to the Philippines ("jeopardize the rescheduling process") and had the chutzpah to suggest how the favored treatment that it might be given could be dissimulated -- which would require, again, CB complicity. 4) The turnaround time between ABC’s request and Marcos’s action is only one day, his marginal note indicating that he was not even bothering to ask CB Governor Jobo Fernandez what the latter thought, but practically ordering him to do it.

It would be interesting to find out if Jobo did acquiesce, but at this time that is actually beside the point. What is important is that Marcos was asked by ABC to intervene to save it, even though this intervention could put the Central Bank, and even the Philippines, at risk -- and Marcos did.

Now for the next letter:

"ASIA BREWERY Incorporated
"January 11, 1982
"Minister Roberto V. Ongpin
"The Board of Investments
"Buendia Avenue Extension
"Makati, Metro Manila
"This refers to our letter dated Jan. 4, 1982, addressed to His Excellency President Ferdinand E. Marcos requesting for a duty and tax free importation of 100 million Pcs. Glass bottles. We were advised that His Excellency has endorsed this matter to your good office for appropriate action.
"In line with the government’s policy in restricting the flow of dollars out of the country, we are amenable to reducing our request to import 60 million pcs. Glass bottles instead of the 100 million pcs. And that this importantion will ;not exceed the amount of Australian Dollars -- 6.0 million. We would, however, appreciate your immediate action on our said request as we need said bottles urgently in order to meet the demand of our new beer product in the market. Although the 60 million pcs. may not be sufficient to last up to the time when our glass bottling plant will be in full production, we are willing to cooperate with our government’s economic policies.
"We wish to assure you that this will be the last time for us to make such a request because our own glass-making plant will be in full operation by April this year. By that time, we will not only stop importation, but go into the exportation of glass bottle and beer products as well.
"(sgd) LUCIO C. TAN
"Chairman of the Board"

Again, a note on the upper right-hand corner of the letter, handwritten and signed by Marcos:

"12 Jan 1982
"To Gov Laya and Com. Farolan,
"I believe we can approve
"the request so that we can
"keep our policy credible --

Nota bene: (1) Although the letter is written by Lucio Tan to Roberto V. Ongpin as BOI chair, it has Marcos’s marginal note on it addressed to CB Governor Jaime Laya, and presumably Commissioner of Customs Ramon Farolan. Which suggests that Tan, impatient of Ongpin’s inaction (note that the letter refers to an earlier Jan. 4 letter to Marcos that the latter endorsed to Ongpin), went to Marcos again and asked for a more direct intervention. Which request Marcos complied with. (2) Reading between the lines, it looks like Ongpin balked at granting tax and duty-free importation of 100 million glass bottles, which is why Tan brought it down to 60 million. (3) Per the letter, this is not the only time Tan asked for the tax and duty-free exemptions, but he was assuring that it would be the last time. And (4) Clearly Tan was using his direct line to Ferdinand Marcos with impunity.

With these two documents, one repeats the questions: Does anyone think Ferdinand Marcos favored Tan to this humongous extent for any other reason than that he considered Tan his dummy? Does the PCGG really think that the case against Tan -- with Imelda admitting the relationship -- is weak? If your answer to both questions is yes, please tell me immediately -- there’s a bridge in Brooklyn that is for sale.

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