Complaint came from fake news site: Valte
MANILA - The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Friday said the plunder charge filed against President Benigno Aquino, BSP Governor Amando Tetangco, and other former Cabinet officials is based on a fake document.
Copies of the alleged document and others appeared on alleged news website "Trending News Portal".
The charge was filed by Rogelio Cantoria, who claimed to have worked at the BSP from 1976 to 1995, and alleged lawyer Fernando Perito.
The charge also included Aquino's former justice secretary, Senator Leila de Lima, former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, former Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and Sen. Franklin Drilon.
Cantoria and Perito claimed that Aquino and the officials transferred 3,500 metric tons in gold bars from a bank in Switzerland to Centennial Energy (Thailand) Company Ltd. on December 22, 2014 to guarantee the printing of bank notes.
Their complaint echoed the "Trending News Portal" article, "3,500 Metric Tons Of Gold Deposited At Thailand Bank During The Administration Of Aquino!" that was published in September 2016 and republished Friday.
The alleged news website did not say if it verified the documents and their content before it published them.
In a statement, BSP Assistant Governor and General Counsel Elmore Capule said the document mentioned by Cantoria and Perito in their complaint is spurious.
According to Capule, BSP Circular No. 49 was a circular issued way back in September 20, 1994, and not 2014 on a totally different subject matter. The original document's subject matter -- the production of US currency notes -- is also outside the BSP's authority.
Capule added that the two laws, Republic Acts 7655 and 7735, which were supposedly used as legal bases for the transfer of gold reserves, relate to totally different subjects.
The BSP official noted that RA 7655 pertains to a law increasing the minimum wage of househelpers, while RA 7735, pertains to an act establishing a national high school in Davao (Lorenzo S. Sarmiento, Sr. National High School).
"While purporting to be a BSP issued circular, issued by the Office of the Governor, it is signed by 3 cabinet secretaries, the Senate President and the Governor. [For your information], BSP circulars are signed only by BSP officials," Capule added.
Former President Aquino's spokesperson, Abigail Valte, has earlier called the complaint as "patently absurd" and "baliw" (crazy).
"How does one answer a complaint so patently absurd on its face? It defies logic, which is not surprising since it came from a fake news site," Valte said in a statement.
"First, there is no Department of Nutrition and Local Government. Second, the Secretary of Justice and Secretary of Interior and Local Government are not members of the Monetary Board. Even the law alleged to have violated - Republic Act 7655 - has nothing to do with the supposed crime. RA 7655 is the law that raised the minimum wage for househelpers. The blatant disregard for simple facts is revealing of the provenance of the allegations."
Former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas did not take the complaint seriously.
"As alleged Secretary of Nutrition, I recommend scrambled eggs para sa mga scrambled brains," he said in a Facebook post.