Rumble at the PASBDI

SPY BIZ - S.A. Maguire () - November 21, 2006 - 12:00am
It looks like an article in the Business section of this paper entitled "SEC may disqualify brokers from sitting as independent directors" (Oct. 16 issue) has initiated a rumble at the Philippine Association of Securities Brokers & Dealers, Inc. (PASBDI). It can be recalled that several scandals have put the role of independent directors under closer scrutiny, for which the SEC has required all independent directors to submit a certification under oath that they are qualified and they have complied with provisions of the Securities Regulation Code. The article said SEC was contemplating the disqualification of stockbrokers from sitting as independent directors on boards of listed corporations to increase investor confidence and mentioned PASBDI chairman Vivian Yuchengco who welcomed the proposal, saying that "brokers can’t be independent because they deal in listed shares and may even be the broker of owners of listed corporations." This gave rise to an open letter to Yuchengco alleging that her statement was a put down on the profession, for which the feisty PSBDI chair issued her response in a letter, clarifying that her "sole motivation in supporting the regulation is to insulate brokers from public perception of unseemly conduct in the course of conducting their business activities." She pointed out that independent directors are mandated to be free from any business or other relationship which could reasonably be perceived to materially interfere with his exercise of independent judgment. Even small personal contracts, no matter how formulated, can threaten an independent director’s complete independence, she stressed, adding that the brokerage profession doesn’t need more criticism from the public and its clients. "P.S. Please note that I’m putting my name at the end of this letter," Yuchengco wrote — a twit at the unnamed letter writers who simply signed themselves "Concerned Securities Dealers and Brokers."
Hoods in robes
A Spybiz informant disclosed that hoodlums in robes continue to traipse the halls of justice, using their positions to perpetuate land grabbing. One such case involves a property in Tagaytay whose title was issued by the registry of deeds pursuant to a judgment previously issued in a land registration case. To the surprise of the title holder, several individuals who filed a case for Quieting of Title were declared the real owners of the land by virtue of acquisitive prescription by a judge who issued a summary judgment and declared the previous decree of registration null and void. He then ordered the cancellation of the title and named these other individuals true owners, notwithstanding the existence of a valid certificate of title and the niggling issue of ownership. Sources allege that the questionable judgment came after an influential magistrate gave his tacit support for this land grabbing scheme. As karma would have it, administrative cases were filed one after the other against the judge, which deferred his retirement and corresponding benefits. In contrast, the magistrate received a juicy promotion. As for the poor land owner, he has elevated the case to the Supreme Court, optimistic that it is free from the influence of the hood in robe.
SEC holds planholders’ fate
News that the Makati Regional Trial Court had approved the petition of the College Assurance Plan (CAP) for rehabilitation was welcomed by planholders who have been waiting for a decision since the petition was filed in September last year. Industry observers noted how the decision, penned by RTC Branch 149 Judge Cesar Untalan, put emphasis on the importance of rebuilding the business rather than destroying it — in effect recognizing the rehab plan’s potential to rebuild the future of beneficiaries. A stumbling block, however, is the continued suspension of CAP’s dealer license by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) which could slow down the rehab plan and even make it fail, those in the know disclosed. As it is, the ball is in SEC’s court now whether it will take the lead of the Regional Trial Court decision, which correctly stressed the need to "rehabilitate CAP rather than liquidate (it)," knowing that the fate of the planholders and their beneficiaries hang in the balance.
Feedback: That billboard again
Far East Enterprises, Inc. (FEEI) legal officer Ricardo Santos wrote to clarify a Nov. 14 Spybiz item ("Tali ho, Tali ha?") about the billboard put up by FEEI at the main gate of the Talibeach Subdivision in relation to a case involving right of passage. According to Santos, the billboard was put up to address the concerns received from Talibeach Subdivision lot and home owners, explaining that "access through the subdivision roads was provided by a Supreme Court decision to a property owner for property located outside of and not part of Talibeach, thereby opening access through the subdivision roads through a property not a part of Talibeach subdivision." The legal officer also said there was no attempt to deny entry to the guests of Fausto Preysler Jr. pending resolution of the issue of "temporary access" in the Supreme Court. Nonetheless, guests were astounded to see the billboard, with some even thinking it was Preysler himself who put up the huge sign.
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