MANILA - Businessman Herminio T. Disini, who brokered the $2-billion Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) project for the late President Ferdinand Marcos, died recently due to organ failure, bringing to a close what is perhaps the biggest corruption case filed against a so-called Marcos crony.
The Disini family opted for low-key last rites with only family members and close friends attending the wake at the Christ the King Parish in Greenmeadows Avenue, Quezon City beginning on June 4.
He was laid to rest last June 7 at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque.
Disini, who founded the Herdis Group of Companies, was 78. He is survived by his wife, Dr. Paciencia Escolin-Disini, and children, Lea, Herminio and Liliana.
Dr. Escolin-Disini is former First Lady Imelda Marcos' cousin. She also served as the personal physician of the Marcos family.
Last September 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that the criminal cases against Disini in connection with the BNPP had not yet prescribed, and ordered him prosecuted for corruption.
Disini was accused of "using his personal connection to Marcos" so he could receive a $1-million commission from Westinghouse Electric Co. and Burns and Roe for the 600-megawatt power plant, which the Cory Aquino government mothballed in 1986.
Filipino taxpayers did not get a single unit of energy from the BNPP, but they finally completed paying for it in 2007 after 3 decades.
Disini left the country after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship and stayed in Austria for many years. He reportedly returned from self-exile in 2001.
The cases against Disini were initially filed by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), as an offshoot of sequestration efforts to recover ill-gotten wealth allegedly amassed during the term of then President Marcos.
The first case against Disini, filed on June 30, 2004, accused him of Corruption of Public Officials penalized under the Revised Penal Code for "offering his shares in Vulcan Industrial and Mining Corp. (2.5 B shares of stock having a book value of P100 each) and the Energy Corp. (4 B shares at P100 each) to Marcos through the Engineering and Construction Company of Asia, owned and controlled by Marcos, to allow Disini to seek and obtain for Burns and Roe and Westinghouse Electrical Corp. (Westinghouse) the contracts to do the engineering and architectural design and to construct the Philippine Nuclear Power Plant Project at Morong, Bataan which contracts were eventually awarded to Burns and Roe and Westinghouse."
The second case accused Disini of "using his personal connection to Marcos... to request and receive from Burns and Roe the amount of One Million US Dollars, both entities having transactions and applications with the government of the Philippines, which amounts were given to Disini in consideration of his seeking and obtaining the contract for the construction of the Philippine Nuclear Power Plant, which contract, through the intervention of Marcos, Disini was able to obtain for Burns and Roe and Westinghouse."
Disini had filed a motion to quash on Aug. 2, 2004, pointing out that the alleged criminal offenses had already prescribed, which prosecutors opposed.
The Sandiganbayan denied his motion and subsequent motion for reconsideration.
In 2012, the Sandiganbayan also ordered Disini to return the commissions he got for helping Westinghouse and Burns Roe get the contract for the BNPP.
The court said, “The evidence presented by the Republic proves that Disini used his influence and close relationship with President Marcos to obtain and amass large amounts of money, which he subsequently stored in various accounts."
In his column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on March 27, 2011, former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban said that "As a
retired jurist, I am in turn sadly reminded that, despite decades-old charges of corruption, bribery and other crimes attending the BNPP, no one has yet been convicted or sent to jail for the fiasco."
He said that despite "almost a hundred pages of affidavits of top insider-officials of both Westinghouse (and Burns & Roe) and Herdis Management and Investment Corp. (Disini's outfit) showing 'probable cause' for the crimes charged," the case still "languished" in the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan "for various reasons."
"For one, the Sandiganbayan could not, for a long while, acquire jurisdiction over the accused because he could not be located. He allegedly migrated to Austria. For another, several witnesses, especially the American officials of Westinghouse, could not be found either. Time has devious ways of devouring evidence, memory and the will to prosecute," Panganiban wrote. -- with reports from Gigi Grande, Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News; Isagani de Castro, Jr., ABS-CBNnews.com