Pryce planholders mixed regarding ‘in kind’ return of plans

By CARINE M. ASUTILLA, ABS-CBN News Central Visayas

Posted at Feb 12 2009 11:21 PM | Updated as of Mar 13 2009 04:39 AM

A dentist was the first complainant against Pryce Plans Incorporated in Cebu. Dr. Gabriel Dionices Albina came to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Wednesday morning to follow-up on his complaint against Pryce Plans.

Before reports came out earlier this week, during a Senate hearing on the Legacy Group of Companies on the “in-kind” payments from pension and educational plans of pre-need company Pryce Plans Incorporated, Albina has already filed his complaint against the company.

Albina submitted his complaint to the Securities and Exchange Commission last October 2006, a few days after his pension plan worth P50,000 reached its maturity date. Albina was supposed to claim his pension but the company refused to give out his pension and asked him to accept it “in kind”.

LPG, meds and memorial lot
The company offered him Pryce gas, Pryce medicines, and a memorial garden lot in Cagayan De Oro City.

Albina said that he did not accept the offer and instead filed a complaint against the company to SEC-7.

“The LPG tank is worth P1,800 including the gas tank, take it or leave it. What would I do with so many LPG tanks?” said Albina.

After filing a complaint against Pryce Plans, he said he decided to terminate the pension plans of his mother Constancia and brother Ian.

‘Chose to answer to planholders’
The three then later on received a letter from the head office of the pre-need company. The letter was signed by Ruperto Marasigan Jr., the company’s assistant vice president and audit supervisor.

The letter asked the Albina to be patient and understand their situation. The company admitted that they are suffering from a slow cash flow.

Marasigan said that they did not renew the license of Pryce Plans and they are just merely a servicing company now. He said that when it’s license was not renewed, the company experienced decline of cash flow and diminution of resources. He said that the pre-need company is suffering from a crisis because of the fall of two major players of the pre-need industry, CAP and Pacific Plans. He said that they are one of those affected by the crisis.

Marasigan further said that some of the pre-need companies were already filing legal actions such as petitions for corporate rehabilitation to escape from liabilities and obligations to plan holders. But Pryce Plans, Marasigan said, chose not to file suit but instead try to answer to their planholders.

Albina said that one way of answering to its planholders is the conversion of their plans to “in kind”.

Albina bought the plan last 1996 for P30,000. He said he paid it in full in 2001. He was supposed to claim his P50,000 pension plan last 2006. When his mother and brother decided to terminate their pension plans, they were supposed to receive P23,655 each.

Albina was advised by SEC to find a lawyer to assist him in filing a possible civil case against the company.

The office of Pryce Plans is located at room 301 in Cebu Holdings Center in Cebu Business Park.

ABS-CBN News tried to get the side of Pryce Plans but its personnel ordered the security guard at the lobby in their building not to let anyone come up to their office aside from its planholders.

ABS-CBN News was able to meet some planholders however who were there to check the status of their plans.

‘Cash only’
Former president of the National Food Authority employees’ union in Central Visayas, Jaime Ang, was among the plan holders. He had two educational plans he said he bought in 1994 and fully paid for P400,000 last 2000. He said the said plans were intended for his nephews and are supposed to reach maturity date on 2012.

But after hearing reports against Pryce Plans, Ang said he wants to terminate his educational plans. He said that he will only accept cash and not any “in kind”.

Ang said he is questioning the government, particularly SEC, for not being able to take a look at the situation of the pre-need company before.

“The government has the obligation to protect us - the planholders. They should have monitored the pre-need companies, which are all registered under the Security and Exchange Commission,” said Ang.

If Ang will refuse to receive LPG, medicine or a memorial lot, businessman Carlito Diaz however will settle for it.

Diaz has an investment of P1,000,000 in Pryce Plans. He said he wants it terminated and be converted to LPG. Diaz said he finds it as a business opportunity.
Merle Cunanan, SEC-7 director, meanwhile said that all their office can do is to receive complaints from the planholders and investors. She said that the head office has the department that will look into the matter. She said further that pre-need companies have a trust fund that will refund the planholders.