Aquino, 'nutrition' secretary Roxas face rap over gold bars; Abi calls it 'baliw'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 06 2017 02:18 PM | Updated as of Jan 06 2017 08:48 PM

Former president Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III and Mar Roxas. Fernando G. Sepe, Jr., ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATED) - A plunder complaint has been filed against former President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III and several allies, including his "nutrition secretary" for allegedly transferring billions of dollars in gold reserves to a foreign company.

The charge also included Aquino's former justice secretary, Senator Leila de Lima, former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, former Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Sen. Franklin Drilon and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco.

The charge was filed by Rogelio Cantoria, who claimed to have worked at the BSP from 1976 to 1995, and alleged lawyer Fernando Perito.

De Lima was identified in the complaint as finance secretary while Roxas was identified as secretary of "nutrition and local government."

Citing a supposed BSP Circular No. 49 series of 2014, Cantoria and Perito said 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.

The gold bars have an estimated value of $141.298 billion or P6.8 trillion, they said.

The complainants said the circular supposedly authorized Centennial Energy to produce US dollars which will be used as funds for "humanitarian projects and ASEAN countries."

The gold reserves, they said, were registered under the name of "Ferdinand E. Marcos."

The also asked: "If the assets were allegedly registered in the name of Ferdinand Marcos, did the respondents secure consent from the Marcos family?"

'PATENTLY ABSURD'

Aquino's spokesperson, Abigail Valte, 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."

As early as 2006, the BSP already issued warnings against fake gold bullion certificates.

The BSP, through its Assistant Governor and General Counsel Elmore Capule, also sought to debunk the points raised in the complaint.

He said the circular cited by the complainants was spurious because its subject matter -- the production of US currency notes -- is outside of BSP's authority.

Capule said, BSP Circular No. 49 is a circular issued way back in September 20, 1994, and not 2014 on a totally different subject matter.

He added, the circular also cited two laws, Republic Acts 7655 and 7735, which were supposedly used as legal bases for the transfer of gold reserves.

RA 7655 allegedly stated that "the Centennial Energy (Thailand) Company Limited has given the authority to produce and issue the United States Dollars currency."

RA 7735, on the other hand, allegedly stated that the funds from the US currency would be used for "humanitarian projects and ASEAN countries."

However, Capule 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. -- with reports from Carolyn Bonquin, ABS-CBN News