MANILA (UPDATE) - The Supreme Court (SC) has thumbed down business tycoon Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco's claims over shares held by him in the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB), and declared that the subject shares belong to the state.
In a decision penned by Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco, Jr., dated Nov. 27, but released only on Monday, the high court ruled that the subject shares, paid by the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) out of the Coconut Consumers Stabilization Fund (CCSF), transferred to Cojuangco, are "conclusively owned by the Republic of the Philippines to be used only for the benefit of all coconut farmers and for the development of the coconut industry, and ordered reconveyed to the government."
The high court ruled that the UCPB shares transferred to Cojuangco, and the other shares paid by the PCA are "conclusively owned by the Republic."
Out of the 72.2% UCPB (formerly First United Bank) shares of stocks purchased by the PCA through the coconut levy funds, 10%, or a total of 7.22% fully paid shares amounting to P10.88 million, was transferred to Cojuangco in 1975 as compensation. This was paid with the use of coconut levy funds.
"In effect, Cojuangco received the aforementioned asset as a result of the PCA-Cojuangco Agreement, and exclusively benefited himself by owning property using solely public funds.
"We, therefore, affirm, on this ground, the decision of the Sandiganbayan nullifying the shares of stock transfer to Cojuangco. Accordingly, the UCPB shares of stock representing the 7.22% fully paid shares subject of the instant petition, with all dividends declared, paid or issued thereon... shall be reconveyed to the Government of the Republic of the Philippines, which as we previously clarified, shall 'be used only for the benefit of all coconut farmers and for the development of the coconut industry,'" the decision read.
The high court further ruled that UCPB shares of stocks owned by the "alleged fronts, nominees and dummies" of Cojuangco which form part of the 72.2% shares of UCPB, also belong to the state.
In 2003, the Sandiganbayan ruled that coconut levy funds are special public funds .
On Jan. 24 and Sept. 4 of this year, the high court affirmed the anti-graft court's ruling.