Gov’t maintains it owns Cojuangco shares in SMC
MANILA, Philippines—Government lawyers on Tuesday insisted before the high court that the 20-percent shares in San Miguel Corporation (SMC) of businessman Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco belong to the government.
In a 92-page motion for reconsideration, the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) through Solicitor-General Jose Anselmo Cadiz told the high court that the Cojuangco shares should be re-conveyed to the government as they were purchased in 1983 through funds from the United Coconut Planters’ Bank and the Coconut Industry Investment Fund’s (CIIF) Oil Mills — both repositories of coco levy funds.
“The coconut levy-funded UCPB and the CIIF Oil Mills are public, hence, their funds, assets and properties are likewise public in nature. Consequently, the funds borrowed from them to finance the acquisition of the subject SMC shares are also public in nature.
“Accordingly, respondents Cojuangco, et al must re-convey the said shares to the Republic in trust for the coconut farmers,” the PCGG argued.
PCGG pointed out that Cojuangco used his position to acquire the subject SMC shares through loans without any form of collateral.
PCGG noted that it was during Cojuangco’s incumbency as director of the governing board of the Philippine Coconut Authority, president of the UCPB and director of the CIIF Oil Mills when he acquired the subject 20-percent of the outstanding capital stock of SMC.
“He did so by using proceeds of loans from the coconut levy-funded UCPB and credit advances from the similarly coconut levy-funded CIIF Oil Mills, and registering said shares of stock in his name and in the names of his respondent companies,” petitioner said.
Cadiz also reiterated the arguments raised by former Solicitor-General Francisco Chavez that Cojuangco himself made judicial admission that he acquired the SMC shares using proceeds from loans from UCPB and CIIF.
“Such judicial admission is conclusive and had rendered unnecessary the presentation of evidence by the government as to the matter.”
Chavez also filed a similar petition Tuesday morning seeking a reversal of the high court’s April 12 ruling.