Press Release
August 24, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today expressed the hope that the Sandiganbayan will be able to resolve the cases of anomalies in the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Retirement and Separation Benefits System (AFP-RSBS) now that the anti-graft courts jurisdiction over them has been upheld by the Supreme Court.

Pimentel hailed the Supreme Courts decision affirming the Sandiganbayans authority to conduct the trial of the estafa and graft charges filed against Brig. Gen. Jose Ramiscal, Jr., former president of the AFP-RSBS.

Ramiscal is one of the accused in the alleged overpricing of lands in Tanauan, Batangas; Calamba, Laguna; and Iloilo City using P703 million of AFP-RSBS funds.

In a 25-page decision penned by Associate Justice Romeo Callejo, Sr., the Supreme Courts First Division said the Sandiganbayan did not abuse its discretion when it junked a motion to quash filed by Ramiscal seeking to dismiss the estafa and graft charges.

The irregularities in the disbursement of funds and business transactions in the AFP-RSBS were investigated in 1998-1999 by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, then chaired by Pimentel. The committee recommended the criminal prosecution of several AFP-RSBS officials and other individuals who had a hand in the anomalies.

The findings of the Blue Ribbon Committee in this matter were vindicated by the ruling of the Supreme Court, Pimentel said.

In its report on the AFP-RSBS fund scandal, the committee found out that there was unconscionable overpricing of several parcels of land purchased by the AFP-RSBS.

For instance, the committee discovered that there was an overprice of P362.1 million in the purchase by the RSBS of several lots with a combined area of 769,508 square meters in the Tanauan-Calamba area. The RSBS paid a total of P475.8 million for the properties as recorded in RSBS books but in the deeds of sale submitted to the Register of Deeds, the System actually paid only P113.7 million.

Based on the committees findings, the purchase of six parcels of land in Iloilo City with a combined area of 128,467 sq. m. for the Presidio Project was found to have been overpriced by P42.3 million. As shown in its books, the RSBS paid P66.2 million of these lands but according to the records of the Register of Deeds, they were acquired for only P23.8 million.

The committee found several land purchases made by RSBS covered by two sets of deeds of sale: one with a higher consideration; and the other with lower consideration. Invariably, only the deeds of sale with lower consideration were registered with the Register of Deeds considered. The deeds of sale with higher consideration were simply kept on file by RSBS, the committee report said.

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