Benitezes to continue PWU fight | Inquirer Business

Benitezes to continue PWU fight

/ 02:47 AM December 24, 2014

Facade of Philippine Women's University at Taft Avenue, Manila. NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

Facade of Philippine Women’s University at Taft Avenue, Manila. NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

The Benitezes are not giving up the family heirloom, Philippine Women’s University (PWU), to Tanco-led STI Holdings without a fight.

In a strongly worded statement issued on Tuesday, the Benitez family said STI’s “takeover” of PWU was illegal and rebutted STI’s claim that family members had resigned from the board of trustees.


Speaking for the first time about the deal with the group of businessman Eusebio Tanco gone sour, the Benitez family said it wanted to terminate the partnership due to Tanco’s plan to “commercialize” the Quezon City campus of JASMS (Jose Abad Santos Memorial School), PWU’s basic education arm.


The Benitezes accused STI of resorting to “dirty tactics” by issuing on Monday a press release claiming that family members had resigned from PWU, paving the way for the takeover. “The claims are baseless and the so-called takeover is illegal,” they said.

JASMS campus issue

“Earlier this year, the Tanco group unilaterally announced the commercialization of the JASMS QC campus. This surprised and shocked the JASMS community, [which] resisted such commercialization. The current act of takeover of PWU was triggered by the refusal of the JASMS community to agree to his idea of commercializing the JASMS campus,” the family said.

Parents of students at JASMS, a school known for integrating children with special needs into the regular student body, are up in arms against plans to construct two 33-story condominium buildings and a commercial complex on where the school stands on Edsa, near Trinoma and SM North malls.

Under the plan, they said the school community, from primary to college level, would be relegated into one nine-story building taking up roughly 2,000 to 3,000 square meters of the 2.2-hectare JASMS campus in Barangay West Triangle.



The issuance of notice of default on Dec. 9, the Benitez family said, was in retaliation for this refusal to commercialize the campus.

STI said PWU, which opened its doors to students in 1919, was indebted to it to the tune of P928 million because the former assumed a P230-million loan from Banco de Oro Unibank three years ago.

“Said notice of default inappropriately and unilaterally demanded payment of the entire amount within a mere seven days. The said notice of default is baseless and procedurally infirm,” said the Benitez family.

It said it was challenging the default notice and was “taking legal action to fight this brazen takeover attempt of a revered educational institution.”

“The Tanco group knows that the Benitez family is contesting this notice of default. Yet, without even the cursory attempt to engage in dialogue and refusing to entertain such offers of dialogue to discuss the default, the Tanco group is now attempting to take over PWU,” it said.

The family was also contesting the amount and the factual basis of the default notice.

It said it was not recognizing the STI’s takeover of PWU, adding that none of its members had resigned, contrary to the Tanco group’s claim.

“Over the course of three years, the Benitez family realized that Mr. Tanco’s vision to commercialize PWU and JASMS does not conform to the vision of the founders and the Benitez family’s enduring commitment to education,” it said.

Fight tooth and nail

“The entire PWU and JASMS community join the Benitez family in their vow to fight tooth and nail to prevent a predator from taking over their beloved PWU and JASMS,” the family said.

The STI group’s claim of resignation was based on undated resignation papers signed in 2011 as part of the cooperation deal, to be invoked in the event of a default by the Benitez group.

STI issued to the media on Tuesday copies of the resignation letters signed by Helena Benitez, Jose Francisco Benitez, Alfredo Reyes, Purissima Benitez Johannot, Alfredo Abelardo Benitez, Amelou Benitez Reyes, Vicente Jayme and Manuel Alba.

“Regarding the claim of the Benitez group in their press statement that their members have not resigned from PWU, please find attached their signed letters of resignation that became effective upon default,” STI said.


STI disclosure to PSE

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) on Tuesday, STI said it was enforcing its rights as creditor and subrogee of Banco de Oro (BDO) to the P223-million debt of PWU and as a consequence of the alleged default of PWU and Unlad Resources Development Corp. in the payment of their obligations to STI Holdings.

Unlad Resources is a sister company of PWU.

Seeking to enforce the security arrangements under the BDO loan facility, STI announced on Monday and reaffirmed to the PSE on Tuesday that it had acquired 11 out of 14 membership seats in PWU (a nonstock corporation where ownership is thus determined by membership instead of stockholdings) alongside eight out of the 10 seats on the board.

On Tanco’s alleged commercialization of the JASMS campus, STI sent minutes of the meeting showing it was the Benitez board that had approved this transaction.



STI said Tanco and STI came into the picture only when it bailed out PWU and Unlad Resources in November 2011 before PWU was to be foreclosed by BDO.

“Please note that STI could have cited the Benitez group in default as early as November 2011 for failing to meet its obligations under the bailout agreement. Specifically, the Benitez group was supposed to raise the authorized capital of Unlad Resources to P1.5 billion within that month to allow the conversion of STI’s loans into equity, which in effect was how STI was to be paid,” STI said.

“That it took STI three long years waiting for the Benitez group to comply with its obligations signified its sincere intention to help PWU and its students.”

STI said it remained unpaid and Unlad’s capital was still P20 million.

“Worse, early this month, the Benitez group called for the rescission of its agreements with STI without offering any payment of any kind for all the funding assistance it received. Being a publicly listed company, STI had to protect its interest and shareholders, and eventually cited the Benitez group in default, the trigger for the resignations to become effective and for STI to gain majority of PWU’s membership and board,” STI said.



Benitez family: STI takeover of PWU illegal


Benitezes lose prized family heirloom: PWU


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JASMS parents slam STI takeover of PWU

TAGS: Banco de Oro Unibank, Benitez, Benitez family, Benitezes, Eusebio Tanco, JASMS, Jose Abad Santos Memorial School, Philippine Women's University, PWU, STI Holdings, Tanco

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