By: Modesto P. Sa-onoy
THE year of reckoning for the allegedly missing P380 million is 2018. The family conflict entered the public square in mid-2019 and exploded to the extent that the camp of Leo Rey used the Philippine National Police with unprecedented force to recover his seat even without a court order. I’ll leave that topic aside for now. His was a pyrrhic victory.
Except for a few days last July, the command and control of the company were in the hands of Leo Rey as its president. If responsibility is to be laid for the unaccounted P380 million, less the P27 million that was allegedly taken by Rowena Sarona, it must be on the head of Leo Rey. The Sarona caper also took place under the presidency of Leo Rey.
Can he escape the principle of command responsibility considering that he had been president of the company for over ten years and had in fact been given free hand in the management of the funds in the Manila Purchasing Office? We shall see later that his expenditures were not subject to restraint by the Bacolod office.
The Daily Guardian headline of July 13-14, 2019 was a giveaway if we trace responsibility. While we can give him credit for the expansion of the company, can we consider his top performance as defense for the discovered financial mess? Does his performance exonerate him from command responsibility? If so, then Hitler and his gang cannot be considered war criminals because they brought Germany into its height of prosperity and power.
This is not to say that Leo Rey took the money or had a hand in the missing or looted fund. It is merely to disabuse the defense that if one’s subordinate misappropriated the money that is his or her full responsibility and to impress that the head of office takes responsibility for the misdeeds of his subordinates due to negligent management.
I am certain that the SGV investigators examined the processes in the handling of company funds in the MPO. This process reveals where some checks went and thus the money trail can be determined. Documents on hand reveal detailed movements of MPO money.
Leo Rey, in that cited Daily Guardian headline, said a memorandum of December 2017, co-signed by Celina Yanson, gave him powers wherein he “was not required, as company president, to explain transactions covered by miscellaneous expenses” and that the law provided him authority as president to exercise “general supervision and control over the corporate day-to-day operations.”
This authority that does not require him “to explain transactions” is a formula for losing track of money considering that there appears to be no limit or budgetary constraints to miscellaneous expenses. If there was a limit imposed on this kind of expenditures, I would welcome that document.
Why is he emphasizing “miscellaneous expenses” as if this is not the source of unexplained disbursements? Miscellaneous expenses can also accumulate to several millions within a year or even less time if the disbursements were unrestrained. To reiterate – was there a limit to “miscellaneous expenses”?
Perhaps the SGV investigation of the payments and other documents will list these “miscellaneous expenses” and how much is “miscellaneous.”
Could an annual donation of P100,000 to a private fraternity be considered “miscellaneous expense” Does that need no explanation or even reportage? How about purchasing several jars worth over P68,000?
Were all the miscellaneous expenses of the MPO reported to the main office as required? Documents on hand tell us what disbursements were made, how much and whether these expenses were reported to the main office in Bacolod. If they were not, they could be the money that “disappeared.”
Here is a question that puzzles the mind: Why was Sarona, whose salary, I learned is less than P17,000 a month given wide latitude in disbursing funds and custody of pre-signed checks worth millions? For how long? However, regardless of the time, this management style is a formula for the disaster that probably caused this family conflict.
Can Leo Rey wash his hands on these? In an interview flashed in all media outlets, Leo Rey boasted of his exemplary management style that gave VTI its present dominance; so how could this happen? This is not to belittle that performance but to seek answers to the present fiasco.
Let’s look at the documents tomorrow.