• Who is afraid of Rodolfo Cuenca?

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    Emeterio Sd. Perez

    Emeterio Sd. Perez

    The question, which serves as this piece’s title, is addressed to the small investors who own shares in Philippine National Construction Corp. (PNCC), if they ever know a reason or reasons why the PNCC has not met with them for 29 years.

    It seeks only the truth behind the government neglect of the company that its founder, businessman Rodolfo Cuenca, originally named Construction and Development Corporation of the Philippines (CDCP).

    Neglect here does not mean the members of PNCC’s management have been remiss in protecting the company and its assets from the vultures. PNCC has a good team led by two lawyers, namely Elpidio Jamora, chairman, and Luis Sison, president. As a matter of fact, they may even be faced with a dilemma over whether to allow lobbyists with unknown motives to close down PNCC.

    Ask Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima what could possibly happen to PNCC’s assets if the company would be dissolved. Given that he has reportedly suggested that the government get rid of PNCC by closing it, he could not be one of those afraid of Cuenca. Or is he?

    * * *

    If Purisima is not afraid of Cuenca, then who are?

    Did the late President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino fear Cuenca that during her six-year reign, she and her trusted people did not want to face Cuenca in at least one meeting of stockholders? For sure, no one knows the answer.

    By now, Cuenca and PNCC’s other small stockholders outside the government must be familiar with notices on stockholders’ meetings only to be frustrated by announcements of postponements. This has been happening for the past 29 years that the public stockholders no longer know what would happen to their small holdings in the company.

    Cuenca still owns 30 percent of PNCC, which as CDCP has conceptualized and built, has now become what we know as the South Luzon and North Luzon Expressways.

    Try to compute the 29-year period and you will arrive at inclusive years 1985 to 2014. This would mean if PNCC did not hold a meeting in 1985, it would appear that then President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino continued the legacy of her predecessor Ferdinand E. Marcos. Even during her six-year term, PNCC has not met with its stockholders.

    * * *

    Then came the son, who even outdid his mother and the three other presidents after her. President Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino 3rd did not only pursue PNCC’s no-meeting policy. He even placed the company directly under him when he issued Executive Order No. 141 transferring PNCC to his office from the Department of Trade and Industry.

    No one among the temporary occupants of Malacanang has disclosed to the public the rationale behind the presidential takeover. To assure the public that PNCC is in good hands, they should explain Aquino’s sudden interest in PNCC, coming at a time when the company is one of the government-acquired assets up for sale.

    In effect, with PNCC under his office, Aquino, with Paquito Ochoa his executive secretary by his side, could closely monitor how the government could dispose of its 151.542 million PNCC shares. These are shares held by the Government Service Insurance System with 47.490 million shares, or 27.22 percent; and Republic of the Philippines through the Asset Privatization Trust, 79.271 million shares, or 45.44 percent. Universal Holdings Corp., which is under sequestration by the Presidential Commission on Good Government, holds 24.781 million shares, or 14.21 percent.

    esdperez@gmail.com

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