THE Department of Justice on Friday issued an advisory upholding the legality of the bidding that authorized the sale of the Social Security System equity stake in Equitable-PCI Bank.
In a five-page legal opinion of Justice Secretary Raul M. Gonzalez, he cited a previous opinion issued by the department on the propriety of using the Swiss Challenge format on public bidding.
Adopted by the SSS when it decided to dispose of its Equitable-PCI Bank equity shares, the format granted Banco de Oro the right to match the highest bid for the stakes.
“We believe that the Swiss challenge type of public bidding satisfactorily complies with all the requirements of the law,” said a DOJ Legal Opinion issued Friday.
But Secretary Gonzalez clarified that the justice department couldn’t issue a direct discussion on the legal issues since it involves a case that is still pending at the Supreme Court.
Nevertheless, he notified SSS President Corazon de la Paz, who requested a legal opinion, of a past opinion issued by the department regarding the same issue.
According to Gonzalez, the justice department had once issued a judgment reiterating that as long as all the requirements of a public bidding under existing laws have been complied, a Swiss Challenge format can be considered valid and legal.
Gonzalez added that based on Court’s decision in the case of JG Summit Holdings vs. Court of Appeals, any bidding process can be considered lawful if it satisfies the three basic principles before a public bidding may be considered valid and legal. These principles include an offer to the public; an opportunity for competition; and a basis for comparison of bids.
Recently, the Court issued a status quo order stopping the sale of the SSS equity to Equitable-PCI Bank. The ruling favored the ancillary request of the Sen. Sergio Osmeña 3rd and four other senators for the temporary stoppage of the sale.
On October 1, 2004, Osmeña, with Senators Juan Flavier, Rodolfo Biazon, Alfredo Lim and Jamby Madrigal filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition. The petition questioned the transaction and asked the Court to issue a temporary retraining order and writ of preliminary injunction to stop the implementation of Resolution 428-series of 2004 of the Commission. — Jomar Canlas