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House, Senate to probe pre-need industry woes Monday

MANILA, Philippines - Lawmakers on Sunday threatened to order the arrest of the owner of Legacy Group, Celso de los Angeles Jr., if he fails to show up at the resumption of the House of Representatives hearing on Monday. House Speaker Prospero Nograles Jr. said it is important for De los Angeles to show up and air his side in the controversy over the closure of Legacy's 13 rural banks by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). "Legacy group owner Celso de los Angeles must appear in the House probe or face arrest. He must attend the House hearing on February 3 to clear the air," Nograles said in a press statement. Nograles said De los Angeles should explain the operations of the Legacy Group, which owns various businesses not only in rural banking and pre-need businesses. Nograles earlier belied former Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation president Ricardo Tan's claim that he had sought a meeting with him to intercede for Legacy. He said Tan was seeking his recommendation for the extension of his term as PDIC president as he was only serving the remaining term of former PDIC President Norberto Nazareno. The Senate, meanwhile, will start its own hearing into the pre-need industry's woes on Monday. Among those invited as resource persons were leaders of the pre-need industry, Finance Secretary Margarito Teves, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) head Fe Barin, and leaders of organizations of pre-need plan holders. In a statement, Senate Trade Committee Chairman Manuel Roxas II said their investigation would take off from the passage of the Pre-Need Code. The Senate investigation stemmed from an industry position paper claiming that the value of the pre-need industry's trust fund has dropped by P40 billion, thus triggering fears of its imminent collapse. "Additional legislation may be needed to protect consumers' interest, and due to the wide-ranging and catastrophic impact of the global financial crisis in other markets abroad, it is our primary responsibility as the country's leaders to ensure our investing public will not be in the losing end again this time," Roxas said. - GMANews.TV