Sandigan orders turnover of UCPB shares in coco levy case
The Sandiganbayan has ordered the turnover of businessman Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr.’s 72.2-percent shares of the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB) which the Supreme Court ruled belonged to the government.
“The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) and defendant Cojuangco Jr. are hereby ordered to surrender to the court the necessary documents to effect the transfer of the subject shares of stock in favor of plaintiff Republic of the Philippines,” the court said in a decision penned by second division chair Associate Justice Teresita Diaz-Baldos.
“The UCPB is directed to cancel the subject shares of stock and to issue the equivalent number of shares in the name of the Republic of the Philippines,” the court added.
The antigraft court ordered the full turnover of the shares after it granted the government’s motion for execution of the Supreme Court decision which ruled that the shares should be used for the benefit of coconut farmers.
The UCPB shares referred to what critics called the “commission,” or shares of stock, that Cojuangco, an uncle of President Benigno Aquino III, received after negotiating the acquisition by the PCA of First United Bank (FUB), which was later renamed UCPB and became the depository of coconut levy funds.
The dictator Ferdinand Marcos imposed a levy on coconut farmers with a promise to pool these funds to be used for the benefit of farmers. But Marcos allegedly used the funds to benefit his cronies.
The court order finally serves to remove the obstacle for the sale of the government’s majority stake in the UCPB to push through.
Cojuangco secured a majority stake in UCPB when in 1975, Marcos issued a decree which authorized the PCA to use the levy funds to buy 72.2 percent of then FUB or UCPB. Cojuangco became UCPB’s president and chief executive officer. Cojuangco also used to be a board member of the PCA. Marc Jayson Cayabyab/JE/RC
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