Disagreements over reforms upset PCCI elections | Inquirer Business

Disagreements over reforms upset PCCI elections

/ 04:08 AM January 10, 2022

An election dispute has erupted at the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), the country’s largest business group, due to supposed disagreements over proposed term limits that will allow a new generation of leaders to take charge.

Former president Benedicto Yujuico and director Jesus Varela have sought a temporary restraining order from a Taguig Regional Trial Court (RTC), claiming that the elections held during the PCCI annual meeting in December 2021 was illegal as many of the members—including Yujuico—were unable to vote.

Thus they asked the Taguig RTC in a Dec. 20 complaint to set aside the results of the “sham” voting last year that led to the installation of a new set of officers of the 44-year-old PCCI so that a new voting can be conducted.


The questioned December 2021 elections led to the return of George Barcelon as head of the PCCI, a position he held in 2016 and 2017. There were only 15 nominees for the 15 national seats, many of whom were previous directors. But on the day of the election on Dec. 3, Valera raised that one of the nominees should be disqualified since the latter represented a company that hasn’t renewed its business permit in more than a decade.


Despite this, the PCCI elections committee declared the 15 as the new national board, noting that they have received 28 physical ballots. But according to the court filing, there were 159 members that were eligible to vote during that time, comprised of 22 members who were physically present, 55 who attended virtually, and 82 who voted by proxies.

Under PCCI rules, proxy votes will be delegated to a chosen representative. If no representative is indicated in the proxy vote, then the proxy will automatically go to the chair of the meeting—which in this case was then president Yujuico—who would then act on their behalf.

“Clearly, the hasty manner by which the Comelec (Commission on Election) improperly conducted the election shows that the election was a mere charade [to] the Comelec, as they had already predetermined the results without even validating the ballots and proxies submitted, and addressing the numerous legitimate issues and objections raised by the membership,” the court document read.

For Yujuico, the dispute boils down to reluctance of a number of directors to institute reforms, particularly the imposition of a term limit.

Under its current laws, a president must step down after serving for two consecutive years, but can then run again.

“In the by-laws, there is no term limit for the president. What’s just there is that you sit for two years but then you can skip a year and you can go back as president again. That’s not right,” Yujuico in an online interview last week. When asked to expound on his proposal, he said this would mean a president can’t have the same position again. “No recycling,” he said.


Although the results would have been the same had everyone voted, Yujuico said that was not the point.

“I’m speaking about principle here,” Yujuico told the Inquirer in a phone interview on Saturday. “For them to say that the results would have been the same anyway, that to me is a sign that they don’t really understand what really is the problem.”

On Oct. 19 last year, PCCI instituted a committee that would be in charge with the amendments, according to a copy of the minutes of the meeting seen by the Inquirer. Days later, or on Oct. 25, Yujuico resigned as president due to lack of support for his proposed reforms. He was prevailed upon, however, to serve the remainder of his term.

“It’s very hard to change practices, which have been actually implemented for many many years. I know that. This is why I wasn’t expecting to replace all of them. What I did not expect was the extent at which some people will go for them to control the organization,” Yujuico said.

Asked for comment, PCCI Treasurer Sergio Ortiz-Luis, Jr., himself a former president, told the Inquirer in a phone interview that there was a right time to question the nominees, such as in the month before when the list was circulated, but not on the day of the election itself.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

“Those are questions that could have been settled during the Comelec’s time [to vet the nominees],” said Ortiz-Luis, who also heads two other business groups. He said Yujuico was just complaining because he lost.

TAGS: Business, Elections

© Copyright 1997-2024 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.