MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice has dismissed the suit for syndicated estafa and swindling filed against former ambassador Alfonso Yuchengco, members of his family and other directors and officers of the bankrupt pre-need firm Pacific Plans Inc.
DOJ Assistant Prosecutor Eden Wakay-Valdez dismissed the suit filed four years ago by a representative of Pacific Plans planholders who were left empty-handed when the pre-need firm folded up in 2005 due to financial difficulties.
The charges were filed in 2009 by Victoria Gomez-Jacinto, a member of the Parents Enabling Parents (PEP).
Assistant Prosecutor Valdez dismissed the charges saying Yuchengco, who became director of Pacific Plans Inc. from 1989 to 1991, did not actively participate and manage the day-to-day affairs of the company.
Yuchengco had served as ambassador to China from 1986 to 1988 during the term of the late president Corazon Aquino.
Prosecutor General Claro Arellano approved Valdez’s finding contained in an 11-page order.
The complainant had alleged that Pacific Plans Inc. executives “defrauded at least 34,000 planholders by inducing them to purchase open-ended educational plans based on their false pretense that they have the capability and the willingness to assume the risks inherent in contracts of this nature, which they now refuse to do so.”
The complainant also claimed that the petition that Pacific Plans Inc. filed in 2005 asking for corporate rehabilitation due to financial difficulties had no basis, insisting that the company was solvent at the time based on its financial statements and an audit conducted by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The complainant pointed out that the SEC and the Court of Appeals ruled in 2006 against the company’s corporate rehabilitation because there was no need for it.
In absolving Yuchengco’s 20 co-respondents, Assistant Prosecutor Valdez said they became officers and members of the Board of Directors long after the complainant’s husband took out a plan with Pacifc Plans Inc. in 1988 and in 1999.
“When Alexander Jacinto executed the educational plan agreements, respondents were not yet a part of the company and have not participated in the execution of the contract. Thus, they have no personal dealings with the complainant and her husband and had no opportunity to make any fraudulent representations regarding PPI’s capacity to honor its contractual obligations,” Valdez said.
“Accordingly, respondents could not have the opportunity to induce complainant and her husband, by means of deceit, to sign the documents relative to the plans,” she continued.
The others who were cleared were Helen Yuchengco-Dee, Alfonso Yuchengco III, Yvonne Yuchengco, Alfonso Yuchengco Jr.,; Ricardo Chua, Porfirio De Guzman Jr., Jose Dela Cruz, Felix Desiderio Jr., Enresto Garcia, Liwayway Gener, Joseph Grino; Maribel Obidos, Nilo Ona, Patricio Picazo, Guia Margarita Santos Qua, Emeterio Roa Jr., Armila Santiago, Adelita Vergel de Dios, Alfredo Non and Roy Padiernos.
The DOJ prosecutor further said Yuchengco and the other company executives could not be charged with syndicated estafa since the complainant “failed to prove that respondents committed any unlawful act or carry out transactions of soliciting funds from the public by way of investments in a fraudulent scheme.”
“It is of common knowledge that many of the planholders were able to avail of the benefits therefrom. In fact, even complainant’s husband had already availed of four out of the nine educational plans he purchased from PPI. Thus, it cannot be gainsaid that PPI merely solicited funds from the general public in the guise of educational plans without any intention of honoring the scheme,” Valdez said.
The DOJ also pointed out that the Makati City Regional Trial Court Branch 61 and the SEC “did not find anything wrong with the spinning off” of PPI’s assets, funds and businesses to Lifetime Plans Inc.
Valdez said that while the Court of Appeals set aside in October 2006 the Makati RTC’s decision, the appeals court remanded the case to the trial court “for further proceedings.”
“Thus this office does not have the authority to review the findings of the court,” Valdez said.