Pork-linked state firm abolished; SC weighs in
The Supreme Court has directed Malacañang to explain the dismantling of the National Livelihood Development Corp., one of the government-owned and controlled corporations implicated in the pork barrel fund anomaly.
In a resolution, the SC required the Executive branch, through Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. and Government Commission for GOCCs chairman Cesar Villanueva, to submit its comment to the petition filed last week by displaced employees of NLDC.
The respondents were given 10 days from receipt of notice to comply with the order.
In their petition, the 69 NLDC employees sought issuance of a status quo ante order enjoining the implementation of Memorandum Order 85 issued by President Benigno Aquino III last Sept. 2 that ordered the abolition of their corporation.
The NLDC employees also asked the SC to declare as invalid and unconstitutional the assailed order for violation of their rights.
“The abolition of the NLDC would result into violation of the constitutional right of the petitioners to substantive and procedural due process and equal protection under the 1987 Constitution. These rights should not be disregarded as in fact the same are so sacred and for this reason they are specifically stated in the Constitution in due recognition of their being inherent and inviolable,” petitioners stated in their petition.
Invoking their right to employment, the NLDC employees cited the benefits they stand to lose because of the Palace order.
“Many of the petitioners herein still have an average of 20 years to which they are entitled for employment before they reach the mandatory retirement. Thus, at the average, each employee would stand to lose about P7.8 million if NLDC would be abolished,” they argued.
“This is not to mention that if they are forced to retire early, the retirement benefits which they would receive are way below the expected retirement benefits they are supposed to receive if they reach the mandatory retirement age,” petitioners said.
NLDC is a GOCC that provides “wholesale lending and technical assistance to microfinance institutions that extend microfinance services to qualified households.”
Malacañang ordered its abolition, upon recommendation of the GCG, because the NLDC supposedly has “overlapping functions” with other GOCCs such as the Philippine Postal Savings Bank and the Small Business Corp.
The GCG said that all three agencies “offer similar credit products and capacity building services.”
Under MO 85, all assets and liabilities of NLDC shall be transferred to the Land Bank of the Philippines, while the functions and portfolios shall be absorbed by LBP and SBC.
The LBP will then create a special window for the provision of microfinance services.
It can be recalled, however, that NLDC was earlier linked to the Priority Development Assistance Fund controversy uncovered by the Commission on Audit, which found that the corporation had questionable releases in pork barrel funds between 2007 to 2009.
Its former officials and employees were among those charged with plunder and graft cases filed before the Sandiganbayan, along with three senators and alleged mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.