SC: It's final, CIIF block of SMC shares owned by gov't

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 27 2012 02:54 PM | Updated as of Sep 27 2012 11:39 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - The Supreme Court (SC) has upheld with finality its previous ruling declaring 27% of the total capital stock of San Miguel Corp. (SMC) bought using coconut levy funds and registered in the names of the Coconut Industry Investment Fund (CIIF), dubbed "CIIF block" of SMC shares, as owned by government and to be used exclusively for the benefit of coconut farmers and the development of the local coconut industry.

In a 9-page unanimous resolution penned by Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco, Jr. dated Sept. 4 but released to the media only on Thursday, the high court junked the motion for reconsideration (MR) of petitioners Philippine Coconut Producers Federation, Inc. (COCOFED), Manuel V. del Rosario, Domingo P. Espina, Salvador P. Ballares, Joselito A. Moraleda, Paz M. Yason, Vicente Cadiz, Cesaria de Luna Titular, and Raymundo C. De Villa for failure to  raise new arguments that may warrant a reversal of the assailed Jan. 24, 2012 ruling.

"The instant motion is but a mere reiteration or rehash of the arguments that have already been previously pleaded, discussed and resolved by this Court in its Jan. 24, 2012 Decision. And considering that the motion's arguments are unsubstantial to warrant a reconsideration or at least a modification, this Court finds no reason to modify or let alone reverse the challenged Decision," the resolution read.

In the Jan. 24 ruling, the high court affirmed a Sandiganbayan ruling that directed the reconveyance to the government of the CIIF block of SMC shares in the aggregate amount of P1.656 billion totaling 33,133,266 shares as of 1983. The high court ruled that the CIIF companies and the CIIF block of shares are public funds owned by the government.

These shares are also referred as "Class A and B" SMC common shares in the names of the 14 CIIF holding companies, namely:

1.       Soriano Shares, Inc.;

2.       ACS Investors, Inc.;

3.       Roxas Shares, Inc.;

4.       Arc Investors; Inc.;

5.       Toda Holdings, Inc.;

6.       AP Holdings, Inc.;

7.       Fernandez Holdings, Inc.;

8.       SMC Officers Corps, Inc.;

9.       Te Deum Resources, Inc.;

10.    Anglo Ventures, Inc.;

11.    Randy Allied Ventures, Inc.;

12.    Rock Steel Resources, Inc.;

13.    Valhalla Properties Ltd., Inc.; and

14.    First Meridian Development, Inc.

In their MR, petitioners argued that the high court committed an erroneous finding of fact, erred in affirming the Sandiganbayan's jurisdiction over the complaints; erred in ruling that due process was not violated, erred in ruling on the constitutionality of the coconut levy laws; erred in ruling that the Operative Fact Doctrine does not apply in the case; and erred in ruling that the right to speedy disposition of cases was not violated.
In the recent ruling, the high court clarified that "certain development altered the factual situation" in the case considering that the subject shares had ballooned to 753,848,312 common shares from 1983 to Nov. 19, 2009 when government moved for the approval of the sale of the CIIF SMC Series I Preferred Shares.

Thus, the high court stressed that its affirmed Jan. 24 decision now covers this total number (753,848,312) of shares. The shares now represent 24% of SMC's capital stock following the entry of Japanese investor, Kirin.

The high court also directed that an Entry of Judgment be made on the decision, and that no further pleadings on the case be entertained.

Associate Justice Antonio Carpio inhibited for being one of the petitioners in a related case; Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-De Castro and Diosdado Peralta, former magistrates of the Sandiganbayan, also took no part.