Appeals court justice inhibits from Ongpin case
A COURT of Appeals justice has inhibited from businessman Roberto V. Ongpin’s case against the hefty sanctions imposed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for insider trading.
The court’s Thirteenth Division chair Associate Justice Normandie B. Pizarro recused from the case because his relative was a shareholder connected to the insider trading case.
The relative was among the shareholders who allegedly sold Philex Mining Corp. shares to the Pangilinan-led First Pacific Co. Ltd. in 2009, on the heels of Ongpin’s alleged knowledge of nonpublic information.
Hearings were supposed to be held on Tuesday and today to discuss if the case warrants a writ of preliminary injunction to stop the SEC’s order until a decision is issued.
But the hearings had to be postponed, as division member Associate Justice Ma. Luisa C. Quijano-Padilla told lawyers that Pizarro informed the court of his move only that morning.
Hearings on the injunction will be tentatively set on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, depending on the availability of the replacement justice.
Estelito P. Mendoza, a lawyer for Ongpin, said the postponement of hearings would not affect the case.
He said the SEC Enforcement and Investor Protection Department began investigating Ongpin only five years after he sealed a deal with First Pacific.
“The prescriptive period was just three years, so they should have acted before. But they slept on it,” Mendoza told reporters in an interview.
He also said none of the stockholders claimed to have been affected by the deal.
The department had found Ongpin liable for violating Section 27.1 of the Securities Regulation Code. The SEC en banc affirmed this on July 8 and ordered him to pay P174 million for the 174 transactions.
Ongpin was also disqualified from being an officer or board member of a publicly-listed company and was ordered to resign from the same positions he was already holding.
This was the first and only case of insider trading so far decided by the SEC en banc under the Securities and Regulation Code.
The appeals court stopped this order on Aug. 1 as it issued a 60-day temporary restraining order. Pizarro was among the justices who concurred with the TRO.
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