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On Friday, January 6, a certain Rogelio Cantora filed with the Office of the Ombudsman a plunder complaint against former president Benigno Aquino III for allegedly authorizing the illegal transfer of 3,500 metric tons of gold from Switzerland to Thailand.
Cantora was accompanied by lawyer Fernando Perito, a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.
In his affidavit, Cantora alleged that Aquino and some of his officials attempted to transfer gold reserves worth $141.2 billion from the Union Bank of Switzerland to the Bank of Thailand during his watch.
A certain Patrick Lami supposedly intercepted the transfer and chased the paperwork far enough to uncover a BSP Circular 49 that would implicate the officials in the illegal transfer.
Introducing himself as a former examiner of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Cantora also named the following in the complaint: former interior secretary Mar Roxas, former justice secretary Leila de Lima, former finance secretary Cesar Purisima, Franklin Drilon as former Senate president, and BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr.
The only sites carrying reports on BSP Circular 49 are blogs, such as trendingnewsphfile.net, netizensph.com, and definitelyfilipino.com. According to these blogs, De Lima, Roxas, Drilon, Purisima, and Tetangco signed the circular in December 2014 and coursed it through the Office of the President.
But here are 5 reasons these allegations should be taken with a grain of salt:
- Circular Number 49 is a circular issued on September 20, 1994, and not 2014, on a totally different subject matter.
- BSP circulars are issued by the Office of the Governor, yet the fake Circular 49 is signed by Cabinet secretaries and the Senate President.
- “RA 7665”, cited as the basis to produce the dollars, is actually the law that increases the minimum wage of househelpers.
- “RA 7735”, which supposedly authorizes the conversion of money to a humanitarian fund, is in fact the act to establish a National High School in Mawab town, Davao.
- The affidavit identifies Leila de Lima as the former secretary of the Department of Finance, and Mar Roxas as the former secretary of the Department of Nutrition and Local Government.
“A cursory examination of the said document readily shows that it is spurious,” BSP’s legal counsel Elmore O. Capule told Rappler in an email.
Aquino’s former deputy presidential spokesperson Abi Valte said in a statement: “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. The blatant disregard for simple facts is revealing of the provenance of the allegations. May kasabihan sa Tagalog: ang pumatol sa baliw, baliw.”
(There’s a saying in Tagalog: Anyone who stoops down to the level of a lunatic, is a lunatic.)
“The Honorable Ombudsman must not delay the investigation of this case, it being of National interest and for economic survival of the country. To say the least, this is the grandmother of all plunders involving dollars like $143,000,000,000.00 or a seizable trillion of pesos,” the affidavit read. – Rappler.com