January 3, 2012
No coercion, pressure on Benjie Pinpin - family
The new Board of Directors of the Development Bank of the Philippines did not coerce or pressure lawyer Benjamin Pinpin to execute an affidavit to pin down the old Board in relation to the questionable P660 million given by to a company owned by businessman Roberto V. Ongpin.
Sen. Serge Osmeña, chairman of the Senate Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies Committee, made the statement following a recent closed-door session between Senators and the family and close friends of the late lawyer.
"No, there was no coercion... They (Pinpin family) allowed me to make the statement that, 'yes, please tell the public that the new DBP Board is absolutely blameless," Osmeña said.
Pinpin, who worked at DBP's Office of the Legal Counsel, took his own life in August this year. There were unfounded accusations that the new DBP board, led by Jose Nuñez, allegedly pressured Pinpin to execute an affidavit to implicate the old board and officers of the DBP in providing behest loans.
"The family related to us, for over 2 hours, what went on in the mind of Benjie, what bothered him. Wala siyang kasalanan," Osmeña said.
Osmeña said Amalia Pinpin, the lawyer's wife, admitted before senators that her husband confessed to her about feeling extreme pressure in relation to the DVRI loan, but the strain did not come from Nuñez or any other members of the new DBP management.
"He just felt that his friends would ostracize him, 'yung mga kasamahan niya dun would ostracize him kasi they all promised to bunch together, but then he executed an affidavit to clear his name," Osmeña quoted Mrs. Pinpin as saying.
Atty. Lutgarda B. Peralta confirmed Benjie intimated to her his concerns. She said the lawyer revealed to her that Atty. Benilda A. Tejada, head of the Office of the Legal Counsel instructed Benjie and the other lawyers to submit a uniform affidavit in response to a show-cause letter that they had received from the office of Chairman Nuñez, which at the time was investigating the circumstances surrounding the questionable P660 million loan to Ongpin's companies.
Peralta said Benjie was wary about Tejada's instruction but was pressed to follow as the other lawyers complied without any questions. "The group decided to adopt a similar answer. That's why he said it was important for him to come to come out and actually detail in his intended affidavit his actual participation, a blow-by-blow account of what he really did...about his actual participation in the transaction," Peralta said.
"He was bothered. He was nervous. Because he was kinda torn in a sense that if he would execute an affidavit, ang lalabas daw parang nilaglag naman daw ho niya 'yung mga kasamahan niya, he turned his back on them," she added.
Benjie's affidavit was prepared by lawyer Hermenegildo M. Ramos Jr., legal counsel of the Pinpin and Benjie's personal friend and former boss at the Interhouse Corporation.
Mrs. Amalia Pinpin said her husband questioned and did not agree with, among others, the numerous waivers granted by the old DBP board, led by former president and chief executive officer Rey David, to the DVRI loan.
Osmeña said: "He obviously felt that there was something wrong, because he was complaining to his wife Amy about the waivers. You know, there were 10 waivers, he was bothered because Benjie felt that he covered up when he did not object to so many waivers because that was not standard whenever they grant loans. At the same time, he said that if he told members of the board that, hindi naman nila siya pinapansin...His wife felt he was helpless about the entire thing."
He added: "The friends of Bobby Ongpin have been bringing it up as if it was such a deciding factor in the Benjie Pinpin death. So I brought it up, but only after I had gotten in touch with the Pinpin family and asked them to speak to the committee, to say whatever they wanted to say."
The closed-door session with the Pinpin family and friends was held last December 6.
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