MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court decided with finality on Tuesday, July 9, that the shares of businessman Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr in the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB) belong to the government.
In a unanimous decision penned by Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr, the High Court once more denied Cojuangco’s motion for reconsideration, saying his arguments “were too unsubstantial to warrant reconsideration or modification.”
Cojuangco was appealing the SC’s Nov 27, 2012, decision, which declared conclusively that the shares of stock of the UCPB transferred to Cojuanco were owned by the government. It added that the shares would only be used for the benefit of all coconut farmers and for the development of the coconut industry.
In the 14-0 decision (Associate Justice Arturo Brion is on sick leave) on Tuesday, the SC said Cojuangco’s motion contained “a mere reiteration of the arguments that have already been previously pleaded, submitted and resolved” by the Supreme Court in its Nov 27, 2012 decision. The justices also decided there would be no further pleadings that will be entertained.
The decision affirmed that the agreement between Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) and Cojuangco on May 25, 1975, was a valid contract, “having the requisite consideration under Article 1318 of the Civil Code.”
However, the transfer of PCA of 14,400 shares of stock of First United Bank (FUB – now called the UCPB) to Cojuangco from the ‘Option Shares’ and the additional FUB shares subscribed and paid by FCA was “unconstitutional hence null and void,” the decision read.
The decision noted that Cojuangco’s shares of stock formed part of the 72.2% shares of the FUB/UCPB paid for by the PCA with public funds.
The FUB/UCPB shares which the High Court decided as unconstitutional consisted of the following:
- 15,884 shares out of the authorized but unissued shares of the bank, subscribed and paid by PCA;
- 64,980 shares of the increased capital stock subscribed and paid by PCA;
- Stock dividends declared pursuant to paragraph 5 and paragraph 11 (iv)(d) of the PCA-Cojuangco Agreement dated May 25, 1975, or the so-called “Cojuangco-UCPB shares.”
In 2012, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said most coconut farmers had agreed to use the funds proceeds for farm inputs rather than receive the funds in cash.
It was also reported that the Department of Agriculture aimed to use the recovered funds for farm inputs to raise the competitiveness of the coconut industry.
But on Sunday, July 7, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) deputy secretary general Willy Marbella said coconut farmers would rather use the funds for “social benefits of small coconut farmers in the form of cash.”
“No single genuine small coconut farmer has benefited from the money,” Marbella told the Inquirer. Marbella also told the Inquirer coconut farmers want to establish a Small Coconut Farmers’ Council, which will directly manage the funds. – Rappler.com