Couple’s arrest for plunder sought

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 07 2010 08:03 PM | Updated as of Oct 08 2010 04:03 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Government lawyers asked the Sandiganbayan 1st Division on Thursday to junk a motion filed by Faustino and Gloria Chingkoe seeking recall of arrest warrants issued against them for plunder.

The Office of the Ombudsman has filed a P73-million plunder case against the couple before the anti-graft court.

Prosecutors said the Chingkoe couple's motion has no merit as the Sandiganbayan has already upheld the validity of the information in the case when it issued the arrest warrants on April 14, 2009.

Aside from the Chingkoes, the arrest order also covered former Finance Undersecretary Antonio Belicena, who was executive director and administrator of the One-Stop Shop Inter-Agency Tax Credit and Duty Drawback Center that issued P73.76 million worth of tax credit certificates (TCCs) to Chingkoe-owned firm Filstar Textile Industrial Corporation from 1994 to 1997.

Investigators found out that 28 tax certificates granted to Filstar were backed by spurious shipping documents, supply contracts, and processing records, as well as forged delivery receipts.

The arrest warrant also covered the center’s deputy director Uldarico Andutan Jr., TCC reviewer Asuncion Magdaet, tax specialist 1 Rowena Malonzo, Filstar corporate secretary Grace Chingkoe, and Filstar representative Catalina Aranas Bautista.

"From 1994 to 1997 tax credit certificates worth at least P115,916,310 were issued to Filstar. The history of each certificate of credit from the point of application to the point of conversion, negotiation or assignment was traced. The aggregate amount or total value of the ill-gotten wealth amassed is P73,762,618. This fact is supported by documentary evidence," prosecutors said.

They also disputed the claim of defense lawyers that the information failed to indicate who among the accused amassed ill-gotten wealth in excess of P50 million set as minimum amount by the anti-plunder law.

Prosecutors explained that the “ill-gotten wealth” pertained to the P73.76 million TCCs that were fraudulently issued to and used by Filstar.

They pointed out that 14 TCCs amounting to P21 million were delivered to the Bureau of Customs (BOC) as payment for Filstar's duty and tax obligations.

Another 4 TCCs with a value of P17.13 million were transferred by Filstar to Petron Corp. The oil firm used the TCCs to pay its obligations to the BOC.

The remaining 10 TCCs worth P35.63 million went to Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp., which the latter used to pay off obligations to the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

As alleged proof of the connection between the Chingkoe couple and Belicena, prosecutors said Gloria Chingkoe served as principal sponsor in the wedding of Belicena's daughter on June 23, 1998.