Benitez matriarch files petition for PWU bankruptcy
MANILA, Philippines—The 100-year old matriarch of the Benitez family has filed a petition for the involuntary rehabilitation of Philippine Women’s University to prevent creditor STI Holdings from seizing assets after a soured partnership.
In a press statement on Monday, PWU said that the university chair Helena Benitez – also a long-time creditor of the university – filed this petition for corporate rehabilitation at the Manila Regional Trial Court “in a bid to preserve its operations after STI Holdings initiated foreclosure proceedings against the university.”
The matriarch also said the foreclosure proceedings would prevent PWU from paying its debts and will render it insolvent. “The foreclosure proceedings…..will also drastically disrupt and stop PWU’s school operations,” she said.
STI Holdings earlier initiated extra-judicial foreclosure proceedings against PWU covering its Taft Ave. and Indiana St. campuses in Manila, the Jose Abad Santos Memorial School campus on EDSA, Quezon City and another property in Davao City.
“The foreclosure and sale of any of the properties will extremely prejudice PWU and endanger its existence or survival since the properties are vital to its operations and rehabilitation,” Benitez said.
Based on the statement, PWU owes Benitez P33.6 million. The matriarch also submitted a proposed rehabilitation plan for PWU the goal of which is to enable the university to meet its obligations to its creditors, including STI, without disrupting the conduct of its business. It involves a rehabilitation period providing for the sale of assets to cover part of the debts of PWU, while the rest will be paid in accordance with projected cash flow over a 10-year period.
It was noted that PWU was a non-stock, not-for-profit institution which has been supported by the Benitez family for the past 96 years. In 2011, STI helped PWU by assuming its debt to Banco de Oro amounting to P223 million. In December 2014, STI declared the university in default of its obligations and initiated foreclosure proceedings against PWU.
STI is demanding P923 million as payment for the loans. PWU has offered a compromise settlement amounting to P644.44 million.
Asked about this latest move, STI Holdings chair Eusebio Tanco said his group was discussing his legal options with lawyers.
“If we had not come in 2011, they would have gone bankrupt because we’ve been supporting them all these year. They kicked us out that’s why they are now bankrupt,” Tanco said.
“There’s a conflict of interest here. She’s running the school at the same collecting case against herself,” he added.