PCGG told: Comment on UCPB petition
The Supreme Court has directed the government to comment on the appeal seeking a reconsideration of its decision dismissing the claims of United Coconut Planters Bank and United Coconut Planters Life Assurance Corp. on the P60-billion coconut levy shares in San Miguel Corp.
SC spokesman Theodore Te revealed that the tribunal ordered the Presidential Commission on Good Government to file its comment on the motion for reconsideration filed by UCPB and Cocolife.
According to Te, the SC gave PCGG 10 days from receipt of notice to comply with the order.
In their motion for reconsideration, the UCPB and Cocolife asked the tribunal to overturn its decision rendered last Aug. 11 that dismissed their petition before the Makati City regional trial court claiming a portion of the 24-percent block of shares in SMC registered under Coconut Industry Investment Fund which the SC had declared as part of the ill-gotten wealth.
They asserted on their claims and on their argument that Makati City RTC Branch 59 has jurisdiction over the case.
In favoring PCGG, the SC held that the RTC has no jurisdiction to hear and resolve suits involving sequestered coco levy assets and coco levy funds as only the Sandiganbayan has exclusive jurisdiction on such cases under the law.
The tribunal also ruled that the petition should also be dismissed under the doctrine of res judicata.
It explained that the issue of ownership of the sequestered CIIF companies and CIIF SMC block of shares was directly resolved by the Sandiganbayan in 2004 and was affirmed by the SC in its January 2012decision.
The high court cited its January 2012 decision, which affirmed Sandiganbayan’s decision forfeiting the CIIF shares in SMC in favor of the government to be used for the benefit of coconut farmers and for the development of the coconut industry.
The 24-percent block in SMC was part of the 47-percent block of shares the government had sequestered in 1986 on suspicion it was illegally acquired through the coconut levy fund imposed on the farmers by the late dictator. It was bought using coconut levy funds collected by the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) from 1973 to 1982.
It was originally 27 percent but was diluted to 24 percent with the entry into SMC of Japanese brewer Kirin.
Records showed that UCPB and Cocolife separately filed in Dec. 2012 a petition for a declaratory relief before the Makati RTC against the CIIF companies and PCGG.
UCPB alleged that the capital or equity used in establishing the CIIF companies was not exclusively sourced from the coconut levy funds.
The bank claimed that while P633 million was invested by its administrator on the CIIF, it also invested around P112 million in the six CIIF oil mills group.
With the supposed equity in the CIIF companies and contributions to the acquisition of the SMC shares, UCPB claimed 11.03 percent indirect ownership valued at P7.84 billion.
Cocolife, on the other hand, raised similar claims of ownership in the said companies by virtue of its being a stockholder.
It claimed that in December 1985, it purchased from UCPB shares of stock in four CIIF oil companies, which supposedly grew to 11 percent.