Comelec’s multi-millionaire chairman and commissioners



IT is not fair to the public investors to be credited by listed companies, through general information sheets (GIS), with so much holdings that do not belong to them. It is true that the majority stockholders who, in most cases, are also the families who own the businesses, are Filipinos. But to group them among the Filipino stockholders in a GIS, in effect, could mislead the public.

To be told that 30,005 Filipinos own 1.132 billion common shares, or 90.619 percent, in Philippine National Bank (PNB) is cheating the public investors. This ownership profile would give each Filipino stockholder an average holding of 36,726 shares.

Is the number of shares attributed to Filipinos true? It is not. To get the correct number, the holdings of companies owned by Mr. Tan and his family should first be deducted from the total number of shares held by 30,005 Filipinos.

Only upon an examination of the list of individual stockholders listed on the GIS will one discover that most of PNB’s common shares are held by companies owned by businessman Lucio Tan and his family.

Not that Mr. Tan is guilty of including his holdings among Filipino-owned PNB shares. He is not. He is only following the format of GIS reporting provided by the Securities and Exchange Commission. He should even be credited for naming the individual companies that are among the bank’s Filipino stockholders.

Juan Andres Donato Bautista is the chairman of the Commission on Elections (Comelec). He was appointed in 2013 by President Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino 3rd.

In 2016, Bautista received P3,856,857, making him the highest paid among eight top Comelec officials.

As a group, Bautista, six commissioners and one executive director were paid P24,973,294 in 2016. Their counterparts in 2010 were paid P12,109,680, making the Aquino appointees more financially rewarded than the Comelec officials under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The pays and perks of the other Comelec top officials in 2016 were as follows: Arthur Delubio Lim, P3,084,905; Al Acong Parreno, P3,078,631; Maria Rowena Villena Guanzon, P3,077,685; Christian Robert Sy Lim, P3,071,303; Luie Tito Ferrer Guia, P3,013,049; and Sheriff Manimbayan Abas, P2,992,999. Jose M. Tolentino, executive director, got P2,797,861in 2016.

In comparison, then Comelec Chairman Jose Armando R. Melo got P2,253,686 in 2010. The other commissioners’ compensation were as follows: Nicodemo T. Ferrer, P1,644,074; Gregorio Y. Larrazabal, P1,627,424; Rene V. Sarmiento, P1,637,324; Lucenito N. Tagle, P1,640,024; Armando C. Velasco, P1,646,424; and Elias R. Yusoph, P1,660,724. Executive Director Jose M. Tolentino received P732,438 for seven months in 2010.

Of his compensation of P3,856,857 in 2016, P1,549,336,or 40.171 percent, was Bautista’s basic salary while the rest went to his incentives including an annual bonus of P1,213,416. Melo received P875,582 as his basic salary, which was equivalent to 29.257 percent of his total compensation of P2,992,686 in 2010

The numbers tell the public that in three years, a Comelec chairman was paid a higher basic salary and more incentives. This made the Aquino administration more generous than the Arroyo presidency.

Due Diligencer’s take
Two topics were taken up in this space. One was devoted to PNB in its use of the GIS in informing the public about its ownership profile. The second was a deviation from the usual stock market items that appear in this space. In it, Due Diligencer reported the compensation of Bautista as Comelec chairman.

As suggested by this piece, Mr. Tan and his people should not be blamed for filling up a pro-forma GIS that requires the information on the number of stockholders. That so many Filipinos hold more in terms of the average number of shares could mislead the public into believing that a listed company could be more public than others.

Tan-controlled or owned PNB is not more public than others. To say that Filipinos own over 90 percent of outstanding common shares would have been misleading had not the bank showed in the GIS that 145.532 million PNB common shares, or 12.857 percent of Filipino-owned shares, represent “the number of shares in the hands of the public.”

Due Diligencer’s only contribution to the public discussion of the more than P1 billion in alleged hidden wealth of Bautista is its report on his compensation, culled from the Commission on Audit’s (COA) reports posted on The amounts credited to him by COA were based on Comelec’s own reports to the audit body.

Finally, Due Diligencer has nothing to do with the Bautista couple’s quarrel. Its intention is only to inform the readers of The Manila Times about the Comelec chairman’s pays and perks.


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