Ongpin to appeal court ruling on P412-M suit

The Philippine Star

Posted at Nov 17 2012 12:57 AM | Updated as of Nov 17 2012 08:57 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Businessman and former trade minister Roberto Ongpin will appeal to the Supreme Court (SC) the decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) to dismiss his petition to expunge a P412-million derivatives suit based on a technicality.

The case emanated from the buying and selling of shares of Philex Mining Corp. by his firms in 2009.

In a 13-page decision, the third division of the appellate court dismissed Ongpin’s petition seeking to nullify an order of the Pasig regional trial court on April 3, 2012 that junked his motion for immediate dismissal of the complaint filed by Philex minority stockholder lawyer Mario Ongkiko.

Ongkiko sought to collect from Ongpin “short swing profits” from the trading of shares.

The CA dismissed Ongpin’s allegation that the RTC abused its discretion in denying his motion to expunge the case on the ground that Ongkiko failed to correct the filing fees in the complaint filed through his daughter and attorney-in-fact Zenaida Ongkiko-Acorda.

It held that the RTC was correct in ruling that Ongpin’s motion to expunge should be denied because it is like a motion to dismiss which

is not allowed under the interim rules on intra-corporate controversies.

But Alexander Poblador, counsel of Ongpin, said in a statement released yesterday that in submissions before the CA, his client had argued that his motion to expunge was not a prohibited pleading.

Poblador said that citing SC decisions, Ongpin contended that what is prohibited is a motion to dismiss that stops the period for filing an answer.

Ongpin’s motion to expunge was filed after he had already filed his answer, his counsel said.

Ongpin also argued that under the rules of court, every damage suit, before it can be admitted by a court, should be accompanied by the payment of the appropriate filing fee for such case.

In this case, petitioner’s lawyer Ongkiko-Acorda did not pay the appropriate filing fees and therefore the case should have been immediately dismissed, Ongpin said.

However, the RTC judge accepted the case based on the belief that the filing fees could be deducted from the damage award in the future.

Ongpin said that if this principle were to be followed, which in the first place assumes that the plaintiff would be victorious and that there would be a damage award, the principle of paying filing fees based on damages sought would be totally negated.

Ongpin said he would elevate the matter to the SC because if the CA decision is not revised, it will create total havoc by setting a precedent in the filing of damage suits.