IT is very unfortunate that politicians are dragging the Philippine Stock Exchange and the Securities and Exchange Commission into their dirty game. Former Makati vice mayor Ernesto Mercado accused Alphaland Corp. of bribing Vice President Jejomar Binay with P200 million. What Mercado would hate to admit is that is accusation may not only be difficult to prove but even more difficult to believe.
Mercado must be told, if his handlers had not properly briefed him yet on the intricacies of trading on shares of companies listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange. Sensitive issues affecting public companies are closely monitored by PSE, led by its president, Hans Sicat, and by the SEC’s five-person regulatory body chaired by lawyer Teresita Herbosa.
Perhaps, Mercado, as a politician, has been used to being a winner in accumulating wealth of information that he believes to be true even without verifying any of them. But this time, he would meet his match in Roberto V. Ongpin and lawyer Mario Oreta, president of Alphaland Corp. This is not to conclude that the battle would pit Mercado against the two businessmen because he may not be alone in his handling his dirty tricks department. There should be others who are plotting the strategies for him that would give him the strength and probably also the financial muscle to persevere.
Alphaland, if Mercado does not know this yet, used to be a listed company until late last year. As a public company, it is governed by the full disclosure rule which, if Mercado and his supporters would want to know, means everything that goes on within and outside the company that would affect its stock price should be made public. In Due Diligencer’s acronym borrowed from SEC insiders, full disclosure could be summed up into ART, were A stands for accuracy, R for relevant and T for timeliness.
Mercado and his handlers should know that they need to back up their accusation against Alphaland with proofs on the alleged P200-million bribe. If they don’t know where to find the proofs, then they should call PSE managers and SEC officials to the public hearing that the Senate would conduct as three senators have long been doing at the expense of people’s money.
But first things first: Mercado and company should also be told that before requiring the presence of resource persons from PSE and SEC, they should review the audited financial reports of Alphaland. These reports should tell them the truth about the company’s financials. How to find these documents is not anymore my problem but I suggest that Mercado sends his group’s errand boys to the SEC to get the files on Alphaland.
By the way, if I was able to find Alphaland’s financial reports, couldn’t Mercado and his people do the same? Pouring over the numbers would save the taxpayers their hard-earned money that are deducted from their payroll for the Bureau of Internal Revenue. If Mercado does not know it yet, the deductions are the contribution of salaries workers to public funds for stealing by the corrupt among government officials. From this comes the unwritten motto of unscrupulous politicos: More taxes, amore to steal.
Alphaland is not listed anymore but Mercado has made a serious P200-million bribe allegation against the company when it was still listed. That’s why I decided to write this piece to protect the integrity of the stock market from politicians who battle for media space at the expense of private companies. I have once written that senators should leave private companies alone. If they want media mileage, then they should not win the space at the expense of listed companies. Try asking Sen.Alan Peter Cayetano and his sister Pia what happened to BW Resources Corp. that was once investigated by the Senate when their late father was a senator.
As I was writing this piece, I received a press release thru my email address which reported that Alphaland Corp. filed a P100-million damage suit against Mercado with the Regional Trial Court of Makati City. On the other hand, Mr. Ongpin, who is abroad but is returning soon, will sue Mercado for libel.
Perhaps, P100 million would be too small for Mercado and his financiers, if he has any. Mr. Ongpin should find out how much Mercado is really worth given the disclosures of his assets which he admitted to owning. How he had acquired them would remain a mystery unless some well-meaning and honest investigators among government men would take the initiative to find Mercado’s wealth. Will anybody out there willing to squeal on Mercado’s hidden assets, if he has any?
By the way, I thank Mercado for expanding my personal list of politicians to watch under the heading “Birds of the Same Feather.” He is joining the group of Alan Peter Cayetano, Aquilino Pimentel 3rd and Antonio Trillanes 4th.