Sandiganbayan asked to block gov't bid to nullify Pimeco deal

MANILA, Philippines – Businessman Peter Sabido asked the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division to reject a government motion seeking the nullification of the December 11, 2009 compromise agreement that named him as the principal shareholder of the Philippine Integrated Meat Corporation (Pimeco).

The compromise agreement was between Sabido, the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), and the SM Group’s Consolidated Prime Development Corporation (CPDC) over ownership of Pimeco.

In his 17-page comment/opposition filed through his lawyers Benjamin Santos and Ray Montri Santos, Sabido argued that the government is already bound by the terms of the 2009 memorandum of agreement (MOA) wherein the PCGG acknowledged that he is the legal owner of 55% of Pimeco.

He further noted that the Sandiganbayan had already approved the MOA in 2010 which allowed for the lifting of the sequestration over Pimeco.

Sabido also said that the Joint Motion seeking approval of the compromise deal was signed by at least 4 officials of the Office of the Solicitor General.

The 4 signatories were then-Acting Solicitor General Alberto Agra, assistant solicitor generals Marissa dela Cruz-Galandines and Eric Remigio Panga, and state solicitor Marie Christine Nolasco-Jimenez.

Midnight deal

Government lawyers, however, claimed the Sabido-PCGG compromise agreement was a "midnight deal" rushed in the last few months of the Arroyo administration.

Former PCGG chairman Camilo Sabio and former commissioner Narciso Nario were identified as the ones behind the push for the agreement.

The current administration of the PCGG said the deal was disadvantageous to the government.

Based on the commission’s records, it argued that Pimeco became 100% owned by the state after two associates of former president Ferdinand Marcos – Roberto Benedicto and Jose Yao Campos – surrendered their stakes in Pimeco to the government.

Under the terms of the disputed compromise deal, the Pimeco shares of another sequestered firm, Independent Realty Corp (IRC), were acquired by the SM Group’s CPDC for P10.909 million ($228,279). Sabido, meanwhile, sold his shares for P20 million ($418,209).

Based on the MOA, the government received P89.091 million ($1.864 million) "in consideration of its consent to the said compromise agreement."

The PCGG also pointed out that the compromise agreement let the CPDC acquire controlling interest in Pimeco and placed it in a position to negotiate with the Government Service Insurance Corporation (GSIS) and its wholly-owned subsidiary, the Meat Packing Corporation of the Philippines (MPCP), to purchase the latter's 12.3-hectare property in Pasig City for P1.1 billion ($23.01 millon).

Through its Omnibus Motion, the new PCGG administration questioned the haste with which the agreement was negotiated and approved, noting that it only took 4 months from initial contact among the parties to the signing of the MOA. Rappler.com

$1 = P47.79