Court junks Benitez family's bid to nullify PWU board election

By Richmond S. Mercurio, The Philippine Star

Posted at Mar 14 2015 10:49 AM | Updated as of Mar 14 2015 06:49 PM

MANILA, Philippines - A case filed by the Benitez family, majority owner of the Philippine Women’s University (PWU), against the group of businessman Eusebio Tanco seeking to nullify the latter’s earlier planned takeover of the 96-year old academic institution has been junked by the Regional Trial Court of Manila.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, Tanco-led STI Education Systems Holdings Inc. said the RTC Manila dismissed the election contest filed by PWU against its officials.

The election contest, which was filed by Benitez family members Helena Z. Benitez and Jose Francisco B. Benitez against Tanco’s camp, was intended to annul the election of PWU members and trustees held on Dec. 22 last year.

STI claimed the election was made “by virtue of the step-in rights of STI Holdings as assignee of BDO Unibank Inc.”

In the decision, the Tanco-led education firm said the RTC dismissed the election contest filed by PWU and affirmed the position of STI Holdings that the composition of the PWU members and trustees have not been changed and the results of the supposed election held on Dec. 22 were withdrawn.

“The RTC also noted that the Benitez Group never controverted the aforesaid allegations of STI Holdings when the opportunity was presented by the court in a clarificatory hearing due to the absence of Dr. Jose Francisco B. Benitez,” STI Holdings said.

STI in December last year made moves to take over PWU after the Benitez family failed to meet its obligations under an agreement signed in 2011.

The group of Tanco in January, however, put off its plans to take over PWU — citing the interest of students for doing such — after the school had been locked down by the Benitez family.

“The withdrawal of the step-in rights in PWU was to protect the welfare of the PWU students and faculty considering that in the morning of said date (Jan. 5, 2015), the PWU community was confronted with a university that was locked down by the Benitez family,” STI said.

Last month, STI Holdings announced that its nominees to PWU’s board of trustees, namely Eusebio Tanco, Monico V. Jacob, Maria Vanessa Rose L. Tanco and Yolanda M. Bautista have resigned as trustees and officers of the university.

PWU has filed the election contest with the Manila RTC before Tanco’s camp decided to put off its takeover plans and resign from the PWU board.

In its response to the RTC’s decision, PWU said: “the case was dismissed because they backed off and resigned rendering the case moot.”

STI is now seeking to foreclose PWU properties in Manila, Quezon City and Davao due to the latter’s alleged failure to pay almost P1 billion in accumulated loans, interest and expenses.

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