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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Noli's Waterloo

Ducky Paredes
Columns from Malaya and Abante - Edition 2009
Noli's Waterloo: Celso

"Noli De Castro admits that Delos Angeles financed his 2004 vice presidential campaign, caused the printing of his campaign materials, and even bought a tabloid to sell Vice President De Castro to voters."
by Ducky Paredes
Can Vice President Noli de Castro's friends in the Senate (where he was part of an influential group of senators before the 2004 elections) keep his name out of the Legacy scandal? He has clear ties to Sto. Domingo, Albay Mayor Celso de los Angeles, the owner and operator of the bankrupt Legacy Group of Companies.
Hundreds of thousands of Filipinos lost hard-earned money in Legacy's fraudulent investment firm and rural banks. Can they actually forgive Noli De Castro's role in their worst ever experience? These people lost their life savings to someone who campaigned for Noli and was rewarded with a high post in Noli's housing programs.
Of course, the Vice President is now distancing himself from Delos Angeles after the latter's grilling by the Senate for the questionable operations of the Legacy group and his companies' investigation by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the Securities and Exchange Commission. But no matter how De Castro disowns Delos Angeles, the damage to his squeaky-clean image has been done.
Noli De Castro admits that Delos Angeles financed his 2004 vice presidential campaign, caused the printing of his campaign materials, and even bought a tabloid to help sell Vice President De Castro to voters.
So, immediately after De Castro assumed the vice presidency, he promptly endorsed Delos Angeles as head of the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation (NHMFC).
By paying a political debt to Delos Angeles, De Castro not only epitomized everything despicable about traditional politics; De Castro also helped Delos Angeles lure more unsuspecting investors and depositors into putting their money into Legacy.
How does the Vice President connect to the Legacy mess by his acceptance of the 2004 election funding from Delos Angeles and his endorsement of the businessman to NHMFC?
Simple. When De Castro endorsed Delos Angeles, he vouched for the latter's integrity, leading people to conclude that Delos Angeles and his Legacy Group must be clean for having been given a seal of approval by De Castro, no matter how indirectly.
In fact, although Noli had no qualms dropping Delos Angeles like a hot potato, it may not have been because of complaints to Gloria Arroyo that Celso was the worst thing to happen to her housing program, we hear that the two friends had already reached a state of enmity over a pretty young thing. Of course, the TV talent chose the more powerful of the two (and refused to return the jewelry that the other gave her as gifts.
How ironic that they were both working in the Pag-ibig program. Ang pag-ibig nga naman!
With the discovery of the dubious operations of the Legacy Group, shouldn't the Senate do what it should have done a long time ago — investigate Delos Angeles' stint as head of NHMFC to uncover possible anomalies. In fact, isn't it about time that they take a hard look at their former colleague's work at Pag-Ibig and the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council?
Are they afraid that they may find that the foundation of our Housing Program is infested with anay like Celso and other Noli friends?

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