BIZ BUZZ: One-two knockout punch? | Inquirer Business

BIZ BUZZ: One-two knockout punch?

/ 02:07 AM September 12, 2022

The formerly deposed board of directors of Okada Manila—now back in charge of the luxury casino resort—have scored a one-two punch to seemingly knock out the camp of Kazuo Okada, a little over three months after the latter took control of the property.

That’s after the Court of Appeals decided last week to deny a petition filed by Mr. Okada, the founder of the development that bears his name, to stop gaming regulators and Tiger Resorts’ board from retaking Okada Manila.

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It took three months to win that round in the courts but it appears that the legal strategy used by Tiger Resorts counsels at Divina Law convinced the appellate court’s justices to restore the old status quo at the controversial casino hotel.

That was the follow up punch to the one landed a few days earlier by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. which, acting on a Department of Justice opinion, ordered the Kazuo Okada team to cede possession of the property to its previous directors.

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The question, of course, is whether the Kazuo Okada team has finally been knocked out by this one-two punch combination … or will it beat the ten-count and get back up? Abangan!

—Daxim L. Lucas

P20/kilo rice, anyone?

Filipinos wanting to get their hands on P20 a kilo rice to extend their finances need look no further than the Merrymart Wholesale app that has just been rolled out by listed MerryMart Consumer Corp. of young billionaire Edgar “Injap” Sia II.

MerryMart said its team had been working together for some time to put together what it believes to be the country’s first and only fully integrated grocery wholesale app with a live inventory system.

With this “technologically advanced backbone” in place, MerryMart said it would be able to provide customers with over 5,000 essential consumer products, including the P20/kilo rice.

Buyers though will be limited to a 50-kilogram sack per transaction just so it would be made available to more people. Since the P20/kg rice was added to the list of MerryMart wholesale items for sale, daily deliveries through the wholesale app had already reached 500 and growing by the day.

The MerryMart wholesale app which comes with the promise “kumpleto na, barato pa” (complete and affordable) is free to download from Google Play and the Apple App Store although it is initially available in the National Capital Region plus area, which includes Metro Manila, Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna and Cavite.

—Tina Arceo-Dumlao

Speeding up IP registration

The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) is one government agency that has gone all-digital in processing voluminous transactions. From the filing for intellectual property registration (such as trademark, patent or copyright), payment and issuance of certificates (now electronic), everything is now done online. It all started in October 2020 when recurring lockdowns prompted IPOPHL to strengthen its digital platform and phase out human intervention in routine processes.

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And digitalization has enabled IPOPHL, a self-sustaining agency, to hasten approvals.

“We’re trying to improve our turnaround time,” IPOPHL Director General Rowel Barba told Biz Buzz in a chance interview on the sidelines of Union Bank’s Innovation Festival.

But to get an IP protection for the utility model, he said the agency could process an application in as short as two months as long as the documentary requirements are complete.

For industrial design protection, he said it’s possible to obtain approval in just seven days—instead of the usual three to four months—for as long as the requirements are complete.

For trademarks, IPOPHL has a “TM in TM in 2024” goal—which means the issuance of certificate of registration must be made within two months from the filing of TM application by 2024. “But we are now reaching this, especially those [applications] without objections,” he said.

Excluding copyright applications, IPOPHL handled about 43,000 intellectual property filings last year. Copyright applications, which can be processed within the same day or the following day, hit more than 2,000.

—Doris Dumlao-Abadilla

New Manila land dispute

Last month, Biz Buzz told you about a dispute over a 7-hectare property in New Manila, Quezon City, that’s the subject of a tug-of-war between Titan Dragon Properties and another claimant.

Well, now we’re hearing from this party—Marlina Veloso-Galenzoga, represented by her counsel Levito Baligod (of “pork barrel scam” fame)—who insists that the transfer was completely above board.

More importantly, they insist that the transfer of the titles was only made after Titan Dragon reneged on its earlier commitment to pay taxes for the properties, which were acquired by both parties, acting as partners, during an auction of foreclosed real estate.

In an email, Baligod detailed how the winners of the bid—Galenzoga and the Yao family—failed to develop the property in the late 1990s because of an “internal problem” among the Yaos, who controlled Titan Dragon.

Titan Dragon then sold the property to Galenzoga through a deed of sale in December 1997 where the firm also agreed to pay the taxes for the property. This they failed to do “despite repeated demands” that went on until 2010, after which Galenzoga could no longer contact any them.

In 2015, she filed a case to compel Titan Dragon to pay the taxes, as previously agreed, so that she could take possession of the property. Summons were served several times—thrice, to be exact—at the address specified in Titan Dragon’s filings, but according to the court sheriffs, no such company held office at the address given by the company itself. Going one step further, she also had a public summons published, to no avail.

So with the go-ahead from the court, the Register of Deeds issued Galenzoga a new title after she settled the property’s tax liabilities. Thus, her camp says, she is now the rightful owner of the property, having exhausted all legal means to get Titan Dragon and the Yaos to fix things through the normal route.

The legal issues are still unfolding though and, ultimately, it will be up to the courts to decide. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Abangan!

—Daxim L. Lucas

Butting heads on WFH perks

Two of the biggest names in business this past week shared polarizing views on the government’s stance of incentivizing firms with work-from-home (WFH) setups, illustrating the contentiousness of the issue among trade leaders.

IT & Business Process Association of the Philippines, Inc. (IBPAP) president Jack Madrid issued a statement on Monday of last week expressing his frustration at how some people could not understand the benefits of allowing that kind of flexibility to an industry that is a major contributor to the economy.

“I am perplexed [at] how the importance of permitting employees and employers to implement WFH-hybrid work can’t be understood by some,” Madrid told his social circle through a posting at professional networking site LinkedIn.

On the same day, Employers Confederation of the Philippines president Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. said asking the government for tax incentives under such a setup was an overstep.

“There are those who filed incentives for work-from-home arrangements despite the necessity of giving incentives to those firms that have employees reporting on-site,” Ortiz-Luis said in an interview with the state-run PTV station, an obvious dig at Madrid’s philosophy.

Since April, Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) registered businesses were given leeway in their work arrangement and continue to enjoy tax incentives despite 30 percent of their employees working from home.

It was allowed only until Sept. 12, but was extended last Friday until further notice. Peza and the Fiscal Incentives Review Board will meet on Sept. 15 to decide on its fate.

—Alden M. Monzon INQ

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