Emailers’ grievances



WHY do buyers of house-and-lot packages and condominium units prefer to email their complaints through newspaper columnists instead of going straight to the property developers to air their grievances about their acquisitions?

Due Diligencer has been receiving emails, and sometimes comments posted on the day the column appears in The Manila Times. While I have no time to check on the veracity of the contents of these emails, I give our readers the benefit of the doubt.

For the information of those who complain against certain property developers, my suggestion is for them to email whatever concerns they have to the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB), which should be able to recommend the needed solution to whatever grievances the property buyers have against the developers of the house-and-lot packages or condominium units they had purchased.

A certain property buyer, for instance, wanted a refund of the P20,000 he and his wife had paid SM Development Corp. Of course, I responded to him with an honest answer. I told him “I don’t know how I can help you. SMDC seldom listens to reason. Even my family complained re a condo project and nothing happened.”

My only regret, in my case, though, is that I did not try to ask for HLURB’s intervention.

Calata’s public stockholders
A few emails have raised some ethical questions against insiders at Calata Corp., a company listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange.

Has Joseph Calata, who, as company owner is the president, engaged in insider trading? This is a question that only the Securities and Exchange Commission can answer and only after it has conducted a thorough investigation based on data to be provided by an investor.

The problem is, what is believed to be a case of insider trading may not be insider trading at all. Besides, of all unethical market practices, insider trading is the most difficult to prove. Ask SEC lawyers, who, chances are, would tell you the same.

Even if the SEC conducts an investigation, it would take years to prove the guilt of anyone suspected to have taken advantage of the public by using undisclosed information about anything going on inside the boardroom.

For the information of the public stockholders of Calata, Due Diligencer is also against Calata’s delisting, which, I think, would be good for the company. With the shares delisted from the exchange, it is no longer required to comply with the full disclosure rule. This only leaves the public stockholders guessing as to the next course of action Calata would take to have its common shares traded again.

By the way, I am responding to the email of Small Stock Investors Philippines, even if it was only forwarded to me but was originally addressed to Boo Chanco, of another paper.

Due Diligencer’s take
As I had written a few columns ago, I was against the delisting of Calata, which was done upon the orders of the PSE and sanctioned by the SEC. By taking the stock off the exchange, it is no longer required to update its public stockholders about any company development.

Why should the SEC and the PSE allow Calata, which has 2.5 billion authorized capital shares of stock, to leave the exchange when as regulators, their main task is to protect the public, particularly the company’s stockholders among them?

If what the officials of the SEC and the PSE wanted was the truth about the alleged involvement of Joseph Calata in insider trading, they should not have allowed the delisting of Calata’s common shares. By doing so, they have deprived the public stockholders of company information that should have been posted on the PSE website as would be required if the company had not been taken off the trading boards.

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On the complaints of property buyers regarding SMDC, Due Diligencer’s suggestion is for them to go to HLURB. It may not be fair to judge the agency’s officials when they have not been told yet anything about the buyers’ grievances. Don’t follow my example. Instead, do what you think is best.

Isn’t P20,000 a lot of money to lose to a company that is a unit of a huge conglomerate, which, in turn, is owned by the Philippines’ richest family? Just asking.


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