Monday, October 15, 2018
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Corporate Securities Info

Meritorious SEC appointment

There is a new corporate sheriff in town and his name is Emilio Benito Aquino.

He was recently appointed chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) by President Duterte to replace Teresita Herbosa whose term ended last March.

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A certified public accountant (CPA) and lawyer, Aquino was appointed in 2016 to fill a vacancy in the SEC brought about by the resignation of Commissioner Blas Viterbo for medical reasons.

The appointments may be described as a homecoming of sorts for Aquino because he served years before as director of two SEC departments and its Davao and Zamboanga extension offices.

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Aside from his professional qualification to be the country’s corporate regulator, his appointment has two pluses, namely:

He does not carry any “moral” baggage arising from a past engagement as legal counsel of Big Business. He cut his teeth in accountancy and law practice in western Mindanao, not Metro Manila, which gave him hands-on experience on doing business in the so-called boondocks.

The advantage of an SEC chair who is not beholden or financially indebted to Big Business cannot be underestimated. In the performance of its regulatory functions, the SEC sometimes finds itself stepping on the toes of large corporations that are averse to the strict implementation of the rules of good corporate governance.

If there is a conflict of interest between Big Business and the public, and no equitable solution can be reached to resolve that difference, the SEC is obliged to decide in favor of the latter.

Bear in mind that “regulatory capture” (or the ability of regulated companies to influence, if not dictate on, the decisions of the government office tasked to regulate their operations) is, rightly or wrongly, considered part of doing business in our country.

For obvious reasons, high-flying regulated companies will exert all efforts (legitimate or otherwise) to have their former employees or professional consultants appointed to key positions in regulatory agencies. They usually succeed if they have a pipeline to the appointing authority.

With no debts of gratitude to repay to the corporations that the SEC regulates, Aquino will be in a good position to steer it into implementing regulations and rendering decisions that are fair and square to all the affected parties. There will be little room to complain that special interests influenced the SEC’s actions.

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It also helps that he has a fixed seven-year term that affords him the security of tenure needed to say “no” to politician-businessmen who may try to pressure him into looking things their way.

Additionally, since Aquino earned his professional spurs in Mindanao, he can provide a new perspective in the otherwise Metro Manila-oriented approach in the regulation of corporate activities.

A reporting or disclosure procedure, for example, that works well for Metro Manila-based corporations that have easy access to modern technological facilities will not automatically get the same results in a province that has intermittent electric supply or internet services.

Because the manner of doing business in the country varies depending on the prevailing social and economic conditions of the place, a one-size-fits-all approach in the enforcement of certain corporate rules and regulations may not always be feasible or appropriate.

While it is true that corporate laws are of national application, the SEC has the authority under existing laws to make adjustments or provide for exemptions in their application when the circumstances call for such action.

Aquino can draw from his experience in the management of the SEC’s Davao and Zamboanga extension offices in figuring out what measures can be taken to encourage corporations to do business in the provinces rather than in congested Metro Manila.

He has seven years to prove his appointment to the SEC’s helm is not a fluke nor a result of his ties with the President. Given his credentials, he can surely live up to this challenge.
Muy bien para los todos, Emil.

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TAGS: Business, Emilio Benito Aquino, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
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