SEC’s redundant 5-person commission

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Emeterio Sd. Perez

Emeterio Sd. Perez

LET us not waste close to P40 million a year in paying the five members of the regulatory body of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The money that goes to SEC commissioners including the chairman can be better allocated to other worthwhile public services such as helping uplift the life of the poorest of the poor among more than 100 million Filipinos.

As a matter of fact, as a regulatory body, the SEC can still function efficiently even without the five-person commission. A securities regulatory office will be more attuned to the needs of the securities industry, if our lawmakers review the SEC’s performance over the years starting from 2001 when they amended the securities law that the commission is tasked to implement.

Luckily for the commission, the members of both the Senate and the House of Representatives amended the code. Unluckily for Filipino taxpayers, and perhaps in their hurry to spend more time for gallivanting than making laws, they forgot to reduce the membership of the SEC’s five-person regulatory body to a more appropriate number.

Should our legislators decide to review the SEC functions, I hope they would access www.sec.gov.ph. By going over the SEC’s enumerated “powers and functions,” along with its “mandate mission, values and vision,” they would easily find more urgent the need to amend the Securities Regulation Code. The words inside quotation marks that were lifted from the SEC’s own website mean nothing to businessmen, who do not deal directly with the commission but rely on their liaison officers for corporate documents.

Up to Congress

Of course, the SEC exercises such awesome powers over businesses that its officials’ words become command. For this alone, our lawmakers should take the initiative to re-examine the commission’s “powers and functions” and its “mandate, mission, values and vision,” which are only a play of words. In short, they are motherhood statements that do not connote public service at all.

Where has the SEC failed the public? If one were to reassess the commission proper, he or she would find an overpopulated five-person regulatory body. The SEC does not need five commissioners including the chairman because it has already lost most of its functions as a regulatory agency to regular courts.

The SEC listed 14 “powers and functions” on its own website but with a qualification. It said that “under Section 5.2 of the Securities Regulation Code, the Commission’s jurisdiction enumerated in Section 5 of PD 902-A has been transferred to the Courts of general jurisdiction or the appropriate Regional Trial Court.”

Having lost to regular courts these adjudicatory powers, what more can the SEC do? It is up to our legislators to decide whether to retain or shrink a little the five-person commission. In other words, they will have to decide the fate of SEC Chairperson Teresita J. Herbosa and the four SEC commissioners. Should they reduce the commission members, who among the five would have to go?

Why not be kind to Herbosa and the four SEC commissioners by allowing them to finish their tenure?

Stumbling block

The SEC may be one of the stumbling blocks to the inflow of foreign investments into the Philippines. Imagine finding thick files of documents to fill up when foreign businesses bring in money. Unless their incorporation papers are approved by Herbosa and company, foreigners encounter unnecessary delays in their plan to open shop in this country.

Personally, I don’t know if the signature of any of the five SEC commissioners is still needed by new business entrants. As I had seen in some SEC filings, only a director is required to the thick volume of incorporation documents. I hope this procedure continues without any kind of interference from Herbosa and the four other commissioners. The worst that could happen is for the commission proper to require the personal appearance of incorporators and stockholders before a commissioner signs their SEC franchise. In the next Due Diligencer: the annual compensation of Herbosa and company.

esdperez@gmail.com

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