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Ex-Philippine Official Shot; Believed Suicide

December 07, 1987|Associated Press

MANILA — Former Finance Secretary Jaime Ongpin, among the most controversial and influential Cabinet members until his September removal, was found fatally shot today in what his son said appeared to be suicide.

Ongpin, 49, was found slumped in a chair in his office, a single bullet wound in his temple and a .38-caliber pistol in his hand, police said. Ongpin's eldest son, Rafael, said his father had been unhappy since leaving the Cabinet.

Ongpin was relieved as finance secretary Sept. 16 in a Cabinet shake-up after a bloody Aug. 28 coup attempt, which elicited widespread criticism over lack of coordination between President Corazon Aquino and some of her left-leaning ministers.

Headed Mining Firm

Ongpin graduated from Ateneo de Manila University in 1958 and from Harvard University Business School in 1962. He became president of Benguet Corp., a major mining firm, in 1974.

After the 1983 assassination of Aquino's husband, Benigno S. Aquino Jr., he demanded economic reform in the Marcos administration.

Ongpin campaigned for Corazon Aquino in the disputed 1986 presidential election and was appointed to the Cabinet when she took power in February, 1986.

The tough-talking Ongpin finalized an agreement with the Philippines' 483 creditor banks on rescheduling $13.2 billion of the country's foreign debt in July.

But he was dogged by controversy over his role in the government's assumption of a private fertilizer firm's debt and disagreements with Cabinet colleagues on economic policies.

Philippine law barred Ongpin from joining the private sector for at least a year after he left the government. He said after his exit from the government that he would operate as a consultant until the deadline expired.

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