SOMETIME in the ‘90s when I managed another Courier, there was a story going around in watering holes about a bank employee who had been approving bank loan applications for her ballroom dancing circle even without the required collateral.

Cases were filed against the employee and since these were already in court, the cases were overtaken by events until there were no more follow-up stories related to the loans. Aside from the ballroom dancing queens, some loan applicants were public works contractors who did not have collaterals to attach to their loans, not even a shovel and a wheelbarrow.

I thought all the while that the million-peso bank loans that were withdrawn were returned or recovered and that the cases were settled without so much noise until I received a news release from Col. Juliet G. Salvador, regional chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG-Cordillera).

The news said the CIDG and policemen based in Baguio nabbed on the evening of June 6, 2022, a former credit investigator of the Philippine National Bank, La Trinidad Branch in Benguet at her residence along Camella St., Upper QM Subdivision.

  The CIDG identified the bank employee as Josefina Salcedo Lopez who eluded arrest for 23 years. She was arrested by virtue of a standing Warrant of Arrest for nine counts of violating the anti-graft and corrupt practices law.

  Cases filed in the mid-90s exposed Lopez as the Credit Investigator III at the PNB-La Trinidad Branch who took advantage of her position as chief of the bank’s credit committee. She had been giving favors to loan applicants under the Discounting Line against Post-dated Checks (DLAPC) without complying with the requirements of submitting collaterals.

I am puzzled if the ballroom dancer bank employee who had been involved in loan scams that were reported in newspapers in the 90s is the same employee who was nabbed by the CIDG recently.

Then the CIDG reported that while they were returning the warrant and were presenting the former bank employee in court at the Benguet Justice Hall in the afternoon of the next day after her arrest, four more Warrants of Arrest were served against her representing 77 additional counts for the same violation.

  For the record, the offender has committed a string of 86 violations of graft that had been going on until 1998. That was the main reason she evaded police authorities for 23 years.

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In high school, we were told that the Philippines used to celebrate Independence Day on the fourth of July. I was reminded of it after coming across an old history book yellowed from time with my notes scribbled on the edges.

One month earlier or on May 12, 1962, then President Diosdado Macapagal declared June 12 as Philippine Independence Day. Two years later, congress made the declaration more official by passing RA 4166 which changed the date of our Independence Day from July 4, 1946 back to June 12, 1898 and declared July 4 as Philippine Republic Day, whatever that is.

President Macapagal explained that his declaration was based on the fact that on June 12, 1898 (my Lolo David’s birth year) the Philippines revolutionary government was established. This date commemorated the Filipinos’ right to self-determination, liberty and independence.

  From July 4, 1946 which was also the date the Americans celebrated their Independence Day to June 12, 1898, and since 1962, we marked our Philippine independence day with no protests. It seemed that Filipinos approved the change of dates. Was it because our political leaders then agreed to preserve our country’s history?

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I read somewhere (not on Facebook) that gas stations profit around P16 for every liter of fuel worth around P86, while P19 is collected by the government as taxes.

  In 2019, the Department of Energy asked the oil companies to reveal the components of their pump prices and tried to examine how they were profiting too much. This was blocked when the Court of Appeals issued an injunction against the DoE. Apparently, the oil companies were guilty of unjustified profit.

  Our situation came about when lawmakers in 1998 passed the Oil Deregulation Law which made the oil industry practically independent from government control. Now motorists, especially public transport owners and drivers, are asking the government to get rid of it. Instead, they want to have OPSF or the Oil Price Stabilization Fund back.

  OPSF was established in the ‘80s by then President Marcos’ government in coordination with oil companies where both would set up a fund to subsidize oil prices to fight the rising prices of fuel at a certain level.

  Aside from re-establishing the OPSF mechanism, the new set of lawmakers in congress are proposing to the new set of economists in BBM’s cabinet to reduce the value added tax and excise tax on fuel sale.

This early, rich oil oligarchs are frowning on the two suggestions but they have already profited so much in their operations when fuel prices were beyond government control under the Oil Deregulation Law, and until now. The contribution that the public is asking from them is to minimize their greed at this time of crisis.