TAÑADA TO CJ PUNO: “LEAD THE COUNTRY’S MORAL RECOVERY BY REVERSING THE SC DECISION ALLOWING THE CONVERSION OF THE SMC SHARES THAT BENEFIT DANDING COJUANGCO”

Office of Rep. Lorenzo R. Tañada III
Chairperson: Committee on Human Rights
Northwing 409, House of Representatives, Quezon City
telefax: 9316478 or 9315001 loc. 7368 email:erin_tanada@yahoo.com
News Release- November 17, 2009 References: Erin Tanada-09193688555 Media officer: Laurice Ramos- 09228433311
TAÑADA TO CJ PUNO:
“LEAD THE COUNTRY’S MORAL RECOVERY BY REVERSING THE SC DECISION ALLOWING THE CONVERSION OF THE SMC SHARES THAT BENEFIT DANDING COJUANGCO”

Representative Lorenzo ‘Erin’ R. Tañada III (LP, 4th District, Quezon Province) challenged Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno to “walk the talk” in his call for moral recovery in the country by taking a good second look at the Supreme Court’s September 17 decision which granted the urgent motion by COCOFED to allow the conversion of 27%  CIIF-San Miguel shares,  from common to preferred shares.

“Yes, there is a risk of sub judice here when I make this statement as Congress cannot actually discuss matters that are already with the courts.  Yet, I am willing to risk it if that’s what it takes for the Supreme Court to at least take a serious look at the motion for reconsideration that was filed by groups representing the interest of coconut farmers as well as the dissenting opinion of Justice Carpio Morales.”

Further appealing to the Chief Justice’s call for the State to respect and uphold human rights, Tañada, who is  Chair of the Committee on Human Rights in the House of Representatives said, “there is nothing more downright violative of the rights of the coconut farmers than what the PCGG has done and has kept on doing with regard to the coco levy funds.  PCGG is mandated to keep in trust and preserve its value until its final turn-over to their rightful owners – the coconut farmers,  With the supreme court’s concurrence to the PCGG and even the Solicitor General’s recommendation that the conversion of SMC shares be allowed to take place, there is no assurance that the value of such shares will be preserved.  Worse, PCGG loses its voting rights and control over those shares.”

“Furthermore, the decision of the SC did not only allow the conversion to take place, it also caused companies and the government to effect the conversion. Thus, shielding all public officials from accountability and responsibility. The decision practically committed the act for the national government, and this is a very rare occurrence because they should have acted “after the fact”, he stressed.

The case of the coco levy funds have been pending before the courts for decades now but has made significant strides in so far as establishing that they are prima facie public funds.  In the case of the 27% CIIF-SMC shares, the Sandiganbayan is more forthcoming when it said that the CIIF Block of San Miguel Corporation, the CIIF companies, and the14 Holding companies are “OWNED BY THE GOVERNMENT IN TRUST FOR ALL THE COCONUT FARMERS…” 

 “How then can the PCGG protect the interest of the small coconut farmers within San Miguel Corporation if it has relinquished its voting rights and voluntarily gave control to   Mr. Danding Cojuangco? He who has been benefiting all these years from the coco levy funds while coconut farmers still languish in poverty,” Tanada emphatically said.

“The Supreme Court seemed to have been dazzled by the windfall gains that the supposed conversion can deliver and add on to the government coffers, while relegating to the sidelines the moral issues that have always plagued the coco levy,” he ended.

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