Farmers hit ‘shameless’ SC ruling on coco funds
The Supreme Court has “shamelessly” reversed its supposed final ruling 15 years ago when it recently withheld from the government 25.45 million shares of stock in San Miguel Corp. (SMC) alleged to be part of the coco levy fund under the Marcos regime, a militant farmers group said on Thursday.
The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), which is part of the Coco Levy Funds Ibalik sa Amin (Claim) campaign, said the court’s ruling on Sept. 14, 2000 that the 25.45 million SMC shares were part of the multi-billion peso coco levy assets, had become final on June 27, 2001.
“Instead of compelling SMC to obey and comply with the ruling that has become final and executory, the Supreme Court shamelessly reversed its decision, ironically citing a clear [denial] of due process to one of the country’s most powerful conglomerates,” KMP secretary general Antonio Flores said.
The court’s decision last month “blatantly denied small coconut farmers of their just and rightful claim over the funds,” he added.
Flores said the 25.45 million SMC shares were part of the original Coconut Industry Investment Fund-Oil Mills Group (CIIF-OMG) shares, so they belonged to the small coconut farmers who bore the levy during the Marcos regime.
The shares were the subject of a compromise agreement between SMC and United Coconut Planters Bank in March 1990, which was disapproved by the Sandiganbayan a few years later, Flores said.
The Supreme Court upheld the Sandiganbayan’s decision on Sept. 14, 2000. It ordered SMC to return the shares along with cash and/or stock dividends that have accrued from March 1986 to the government, through the Presidential Commission on Good Government.
On April 17, 2001, the court denied SMC’s motion for reconsideration and an entry of judgment was made on June 27, 2001.
However, on Oct. 5, 2016 the court rejected the government’s bid to take back the 25.45 million shares, which have been converted to non-voting treasury shares, from SMC control.
The tribunal said it was the “height of injustice” to order SMC to comply with the decision of the Sandiganbayan “when it was never given the opportunity to present, explain and prove its claim over the contested shares.”
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