Manila Bulletin

Un­de­terred by SC de­ci­sion, UCPB to pur­sue SMC claims

- By LEE C. CHIPONGIAN Business · Finance · White-collar Crime · Investing · Investment Banking · Crime · Banking · San Miguel Corporation · United Coconut Planters Bank

The United Co­conut Planters Bank (UCPB) yesterday said it will con­tinue to pur­sue its claim on some of the dis­puted hold­ings in San Miguel Corp. (SMC) which had noth­ing to do with the con­tro­ver­sial coco levy funds.

Re­act­ing to the Supreme Court’s (SC) re­cent dis­missal of the UCPB and its in­sur­ance unit, Co­conut Planters Life As­sur­ance Corp.’s (Co­co­l­ife) claims in SMC, the bank said it will con­tinue to “ex­haust all pos­si­ble le­gal reme­dies” to ac­quire the shares which it pur­chased with its own bank funds to in­vest in the oil mills and SMC shares.

“UCPB would like to clar­ify that it is not claim­ing any part of the coco levy funds or as­sets,” it said in a state­ment on Thurs­day. “(UCPB) re­spect­fully rec­og­nizes that these are gov­ern­men­towned. Like­wise, it is not claim­ing the in­vest­ments that the bank made as ad­min­is­tra­tor of the CIIF (Co­conut In­dus­try In­vest­ment Fund). In­stead, it is merely pro­tect­ing its own share­hold­ers, in­clud­ing the ma­jor­ity gov­ern­ment share­holder, and pre­serv­ing bank as­sets.”

The Supreme Court or­dered the dis­missal of UCPB’s pe­ti­tion for declara­tory re­lief or re­quest for a le­gal clar­i­fi­ca­tion on UCPB's rights to its mi­nor­ity shares of stock in the CIIF Oil Mills and in­di­rectly in an 11 per­cent por­tion of the se­questered SMC shares which were ruled to be owned by the gov­ern­ment for the ben­e­fit of co­conut farm­ers and the de­vel­op­ment of the coco in­dus­try.

“UCPB would like to re­it­er­ate that it is not af­ter any por­tion of the coco levy funds that were ruled by the gov­ern­ment for the ben­e­fit of co­conut farm­ers and the de­vel­op­ment of the co­conut in­dus­try,” said the bank.

UCPB com­mented that it has ad­min­is­tered the coco levy funds and in­creased it to 65.48 bil­lion from only 2.57 bil­lion in 1977 for the “ben­e­fit of the co­conut farm­ers.”

In com­pli­ance with the Supreme Court’s de­ci­sion that the funds are legally owned by the gov­ern­ment for the ben­e­fit of the co­conut farm­ers and the co­conut in­dus­try, the funds were re­mit­ted in two tranches in Oc­to­ber 2012 and June 2015 amount­ing to 70 bil­lion to the Bureau of Trea­sury for its safe­keep­ing. “Thus, it would be out of char­ac­ter for the bank to lay claim on these funds now when UCPB du­ti­fully grew the funds in its role as ad­min­is­tra­tor, not as owner of the funds,” it ar­gued.

The bank added that the UCPBCIIF Fi­nance and De­vel­op­ment Corp. has pro­vided fi­nanc­ing worth 6.6 bil­lion for co­op­er­a­tives and non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tions sup­port­ing co­conut farm­ers and farm work­ers, liveli­hood and in­come-gen­er­at­ing ac­tiv­i­ties of co­conut farm­ers’ wives and de­pen­dents, and en­tre­pre­neur­ial projects that use co­conut prod­ucts and de­riv­a­tives. An ad­di­tional 1.4 bil­lion was ex­tended as in­sur­ance cov­er­age.

The UCPB-CIIF Foun­da­tion has also sup­ported the ed­u­ca­tion of 2,400 chil­dren of co­conut farm­ers through schol­ar­ship grants that has reached a to­tal of 175.84 mil­lion, said UCPB.

“UCPB will not do any­thing detri­men­tal to the co­conut farm­ers sec­tor,” UCPB in­sisted. “(We) only wish to as­sert the bank’s po­si­tion that, aside from the coco levy funds used to ac­quire a con­trol­ling in­ter­est in the oil mills and SMC shares, it also used its own cor­po­rate funds to in­vest in a mi­nor­ity in­ter­est in the same oil mills and SMC shares. In do­ing so, it is ful­fill­ing its fidu­ciary duty to, and pro­tect­ing the in­ter­ests of, its stake­hold­ers, in­clud­ing the co­conut farm­ers and the gov­ern­ment.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines