THE Supreme Court (SC) has ruled with finality that the shares of tycoon Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr. in the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB) belong to the government.
In a resolution, the 15-man tribunal rejected the motion for reconsideration filed by Cojuangco who questioned the High Court’s findings that the UCPB shares are part of the ill-gotten wealth acquired from coconut levy funds.
The Court stood by its November 27, 2012 ruling affirming the Sandiganbayan decision against Cojuangco.
The resolution, penned by Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr., struck down the magnate’s motion for reconsideration as having no merit.
“The arguments in the motion are too unsubstantial to warrant reconsideration or modification. We find no reason to modify or abandon the challenged decision,” it said.
It was also pointed out that the arguments presented are rehashed and passed upon already by the court.
With the finality of the ruling, the tribunal said it will no longer entertain further pleadings.
8 justices voted for govt
In the November 2012 decision, eight justices voted in favor of the government and six inhibited themselves.
The government, through the Presidential Commission on Good Government, won after the Court declared incontrovertible the evidence presented in the case.
The tribunal upheld the anti-graft court’s ruling nullifying the May 25, 1975 deal of the Philippine Coconut Administration (PCA), which transferred to Cojuangco by way of compensation 10 percent of the 72.2 percent First United Bank (now UCPB) shares of stocks that the PCA purchased from his uncle, Pedro Cojuangco, using the coconut levy funds.
The SC en banc gave credence to the findings of the Sandiganbayan that it cannot uphold the agreement between PCA and Cojuangco.
It pointed out that if it allowed the Cojuangco agreement, he will receive public assets with a value then of P10.88 million, considering his admission that the PCA paid the entire acquisition price for the 72.2 percent shares out of the Coconut Consumers Stabilization Fund (CCSF).
With this, the tycoon will benefit by getting the property acquired using public funds.
“Consequently, Cojuangco cannot stand to benefit by receiving, in his private capacity, 7.22 percent of the FUB shares without violating the constitutional caveat that public funds can only be used for public purpose. Accordingly, the 7.22 percent FUB (UCPB) shares that were given to Cojuangco shall be returned to the Government, to be used ’only for the benefit of all coconut farmers and for the development of the coconut industry’,” the tribunal said.
In 2003, the Sandiganbayan ruled the PCA’s use of coconut levy funds to purchase the 72.2 percent of UCPB in 1975 is illegal.
The SC also ruled that the Sandiganbayan was correct in declaring the state as owner of the 72.2 percent shares paid by the PCA using coconut levy funds.