Businessman files graft case vs. IPO hearing officer

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A 94-year-old businessman has sued a hearing officer of the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) before the Ombudsman for “manifest partiality, evident bad faith, or gross inexcusable negligence” in handling his pending petition before the cited agency.

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Gonzalo Co, founder of Gonzalo Laboratories Inc., the manufacturer of Green Cross rubbing alcohol and Zonrox bleach, sued lawyer Josephine Alon, an IPO hearing officer, for allegedly violating Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Co was prompted to file the complaint after Alon ordered the exclusion of his affidavit containing 11 documentary exhibits to support his petition to cancel the registration of the brand Zonrox filed before the IPO in March 2004.

The Ombudsman gave Alon until June 30 to submit her counter-affidavit. However, the Ombudsman granted her motion to extend the deadline to file the cited pleading to July 14.

In an order issued in January 2013, Alon justified the exclusion of Co’s affidavit by citing IPO Order 99, arguing that Co should have included his affidavit among the evidence attached to his petition.

Co, in his complaint, said Alon’s order caused “undue injury” to him and gave his adversaries “unwarranted benefits, advantage, preference”.

Co said he registered the Zonrox brand with the former Philippine Patent Office in September 1963 and was given a certificate of registration in November the following year. However, Co’s siblings, who allegedly illegally took over his company, registered the brand again with the present IPO in 2004 under Green Cross Inc.

The new company was formed, Co said, through the redistribution without his consent of shares that he had first placed “in implied trust” in the names of his parents and siblings when he registered Gonzalo Laboratories Inc. with the Securities and Exchange Commission in August 1971. The name of the company was changed to Green Cross Inc. in 1989.

In a separate document, Co stated that his siblings Anthony Co, Joseph Co, Mary Co and Peter Co claimed to have paid for the brand in 2001 through five Deeds of Donation and five Deeds of Trust worth P9 million.

But Co said that the corporation he founded—not his siblings —paid the cited amount. He also underlined that the amount was given to him “out of love and concern”, contrary to his sibling’s claim that the payment facilitated a business transaction.

Moreover, Co’s siblings terminated the cited trust fund when he filed the case.

Co also recalled the humiliation he felt during the 50th anniversary of Green Cross Inc. at the Manila Mandarin Hotel when his father, Co Ay Tian, was named as the founder of the company instead of him.

In a press lunch last Saturday, Co’s son Syril narrated that on separate occasions, businessmen like Mariano Que and Jack Concepcion of Mercury Drug as well as John Gokongwei acknowledged Co’s ownership and founding of the Green Cross brands.

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