PITY the public who troop to the Securities and Exchange Commission every day. Some of them are college students who are trying to imbibe things corporate that they can only learn by reading the documents filed with the SEC by private companies. Many still are liaison officers of various law offices who follow up the processing of the registration of companies of their clients or updating of company reports.
To the students, liaison officers of law firms, and individual practicing lawyers who personally follow up papers for SEC approval, dealing with the SEC and its people used to be easy. As long as they comply with the requirements, they did not have to worry about delays in, say registration of new companies. In short, they should follow the rules.
Then came the new regime that has effectively fenced out the public from the SEC offices. If one feels alienated, he or she should ask the present members of SEC’s five-man regulatory body headed by Chairperson Teresita Herbosa, whose idea it is to build a wall that separates the SEC from the people.
Lawyers would never question Herbosa and company on any of their initiatives. Why antagonize the powers that can make or break their sources of income? Since they prefer to be passive, Due Diligencer is addressing following questions to ask SEC’s top officials: 1) Why did you—I am referring to Chairperson Herbosa) and your fellow commissioners make researching on private companies more costly? 2) Did you have to outsource the responsibility that used to be efficiently handled by SEC insiders? 3) Do you know that one has to pay more than P1,000 for the delivery of documents of two stock corporations? 4) Why did you and your fellow commissioners allow this to happen?
Perhaps, Herbosa and company must be told that they are the only ones who had isolated the SEC from the public. This had not happened under the previous leaderships in more than 70 years after the SEC began operating in 1936.
By the way, despite the low salaries of the chairman and commissioners pre-Herbosa era, the SEC was admired by the public for the efficiency of the five-man commission and its other junior officials and rank-and-file personal despite the low salary. Let’s us look at the commission’s compensation. Before 2001 when the new salary package of the commission took effect, Chairman Perfecto R. Yasay Jr. grossed only from P30,000 to P35,000 a month as the chairman and while the four commissioners got P25,000 a month.
For the comparison: Herbosa is lucky because she got P7,134,846, or P594,570 a month, in 2013, according to a report compiled by the Commission on Audit. In the same year, the same report showed SEC Commissioners Ma. Juanita E. Cueto, Manuel Huberto B. Gaite, and Eladio Jala received P4,754,400 each and Antonieta F. Ibe, P4,753,127. Will some insiders volunteer why the big pay difference of P2,380,464 between the chairperson and the commissioners?
Finally, here is the biggest poser. Does the SEC still need five commissioners including the chairman when the 2001 Securities Regulation Code (SRC) has clipped its powers over intra-corporate issues such as the legal battles between and among stockholders?
The answer is a big No. The SEC does not need a five-man regulatory body in approving the registration of new companies and amending the charters of existing ones. Yes, the SEC also regulates the Philippine Stock Exchange. But PSE is much too small for a five-man commission.
I have long been advocating the reduction of commissioners from five to three because the SEC has lost its jurisdiction over intra-corporate cases to regular court designated by the Supreme Court. This is at least 30 percent—or even more—less load for the SEC and the five-commission to whom cases decided by the hearing officers are elevated by the losers who wanted to appeal the ruling.
As a major depository of corporate files, the SEC no longer needs an overpopulated commission. It is time for Congress to amend the SEC law and install a commission that can function even with only three members. But before Congress amends the law, anyone among our legislators interested in looking into the SEC’s outsourcing of public service?