FIRST PHILIPPINE HOLDINGS IS A CORPORATION THAT IS CONSTANTLY IN ACTION. WE’RE ALWAYS TRYING TO FIND WAYS TO DELIVER FOR OUR STAKEHOLDERS AND THE FILIPINO PEOPLE.
Lopez family for reconsideration of decision on the EPCIB shares
Lopez-owned First Philippine Holdings Corporation (FPHC) will question the Sandiganbayan decision dismissing, even before trial of the case, their claim to a block of Equitable-PCI Bank (EPCIB) shares registered in the name of Trans Middle East (Phils.) Equities (TMEE) which is controlled by the family of former Leyte Governor Benjamin “Kokoy” Romualdez.
The Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division said that FPHC’s lawsuit was filed too late. FPHC says it could not have filed the case during the Marcos years due to intimidation, violence or undue influence. This was the case with Meralco and ABS-CBN; these companies were seized in 1973, but claims were filed after the 1986 EDSA Revolution.
TMEE acquired the shares on May 24, 1984. The Civil Code gives a four-year period to move for the annulment of a transaction on the ground of intimidation, violence or undue influence. Thus, the court said FPHC should have challenged the transaction by May 24, 1988. FPHC, however, filed the claim on December 28, 1988.
However, the Supreme Court has held that if a contract is alleged to be void from the beginning, prescription cannot be the basis for a dismissal before trial.
FPHC points out that it could not have filed the claim during the Marcos years. It asserts that it is illogical to say that intimidation, violence or undue influence ceased at the same time that it was supposed to have been exerted–the date of the execution of the contract. Furthermore, there is a bigger issue that surrounds the case, i.e., the total lack of consent because the approving board was a dummy board, making the contract void from the very beginning. The dummy board was replaced after the Lopezes regained control of FPHC. The new board found out about the transfer and took steps to get back the shares, including finally filing the action last December 28, 1988.
FPHC further says that the issue is not whether the judiciary during the Marcos years could render justice to the claims of the Lopezes but whether the claims can be asserted at all; and that the matter of whether FPHC can still recover the shares involves factual issues that could properly be resolved only after trial.
It will be noted that FPHC had to go to the Supreme Court to order the Sandiganbayan to allow it to pursue the case. The Sandiganbayan order of dismissal will further delay the prosecution of FPHC’s claim against a grossly wrongful dispossession of its PCIB shares.
FPHC will file for reconsideration or petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court.
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*Document includes a brief chronology of events