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Benjamin B. Pulta

CA junks SEC appeal against Ongpin

Saturday, 04 February 2017 00:00 Published in Metro

Government state regulators have lost an appeal filed before the Court of Appeals (CA) against embattled businessman Roberto Ongpin over the latter’s  alleged involvement in insider trading involving Philex Mining shares.

The appellate court ruled to deny the motion for reconsideration filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) seeking to lift the writ of preliminary injunction it earlier issued in favor of Ongpin.
The CA stopped the enforcement of the SEC’s P174-million fine against Ongpin after its issuance of the temporary restraining order and afterwards an injunction order.
“As regards the motion for reconsideration, this Court carefully examined the arguments raised by respondent (SEC) in said motion, as well as those in the Opposition filed by petitioner but we found no valid reason to disturb our earlier ruling. The grounds raised by respondent are a mere rehash of those that have already been judiciously passed upon and duly considered in issuing the September 29, 2016 Resolution,” the resolution reads.
The CA ruled “this Court is simply not convinced that a modification of said Resolution, granting the application for a writ of preliminary injunction, is warranted under the circumstances,” it said.
The CA also turned down  Ongpin’s plea to reduce the additional P20-million bond being set by the CA after its issuance of writ of preliminary injunction.
The three-page Resolution of the CA former Special 13th Division was written by Associate Justice Ma. Luisa Quijano-Padilla. Justices Samuel Gaerlan and Marie Christine Azcarraga-Jacob likewise signed.
“In view of the foregoing, both petitioner’s Motion to Reduce Injunction Bond and respondent’s Motion for Reconsideration are hereby denied,” the ruling states.
The CA ruled the Office of the Solicitor General is correct with its opposition to the plea of Ongpin since “any prayer for reduction must be denied because the injunction bond must be sufficient enough to ensure that respondent will sustain no loss and the interest of the general public will be amply protected in the event the writ is finally dissolved.”
Ongpin  pleaded in his petition to halt the SEC order. On July 8, 2016, Ongpin was meted a penalty by the SEC en banc over 174 counts of alleged insider trading involving Philex Mining shares on December 2, 2009. The Commission ruled that Ongpin benefited and profited from insider or material non-public information. It was learned  the SEC en banc ruling was 10 times higher than the P17.4-million penalty suggested by the SEC’s Enforcement and Investor Protection Department.
The SEC stated Ongpin’s purchase of additional Philex shares ahead of a December 1, 2009 deal between the firm and Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd. for the latter’s buying into Philex.
The Commission ruled Ongpin “was able to consolidate the required number of shares, supplementing his block of shares with the shares brought from the open market, sold them to the subsidiary of First Pacific at the privately agreed price of P21 per share, thereafter giving the First Pacific group control over Philex.”
This is now stopped by the CA with a TRO that shall last for a period of 60-days and Ongpin was ordered to post a bond in the amount of a million pesos.
In the CA ruling, it took cognizance of another penalty imposed by the corporate regulator disqualifying Ongpin from being an officer or member of the Board of Directors of any publicly listed firm.
The appeals court argued  the stay order aims to prevent any irreparable injury on the part of Ongpin while the case is pending on its merits.
“The damage to be suffered, if any, is not quantifiable in terms of monetary value and cannot be remedied under any standard compensation,” the CA ruled.

No annulment is forthcoming for the star-crossed marriage between Jodi Chrissie Africano Sta. Maria and Panfilo de Perio Lacson Jr., son of Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson.
In a three-page Resolution of the CA 8th Division by Associate Justice Carmelita Salandanan Manahan, the appellate court ruled to affirm its earlier ruling on Septmber 28, 2016 which dismissed the petition for review on certiorari seeking the reversal of the decision of the lower court.
Associate Justices Japar Dimaampao and Franchito Diamante concurred in refusing to release and set free each other.
Lacson sought the reversal of the decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 194 of Parañaque City in a civil case for declaration of nullity of Sta. Maria and Lacson’s marriage.
“Wherefore, the Motion for Reconsideration filed by the plaintiff-appellee assailing this Court’s Decision rendered on September 28, 2016 is hereby Denied,” the CA ruled.
The CA said it found no reason to disturb its earlier decision and seeks to protect the sanctity of marriage.
“We find no cogent reason to reconsider the assailed decision. No less than the Constitution recognizes the sanctity of marriage and the unity of the family; it decrees marriage as legally “inviolable” and protects it from dissolution at the whim of the parties. Both the family and marriage are to be “protected” by the state. The Court must be circumspect in application of rules pertaining to annulment of marriage so as to defend and promote the sanctity of marriage,” it stated.
Sta. Maria and Lacson met at the set of the television series “Tabing Ilog” in 2000. They became sweethearts after several months of courtship.
In March 2005, they were married in Nevada and in June the same year before a court in Paranaque City. On December 23, 2005, they were blessed with a son named Panfilo Sta. Maria Lacson III.
As the relationship between them turned sour and unstable, Sta. Maria was compelled to file an amended petition for declaration of nullity of their marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code before the RTC.
The Court granted the petition until the government through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) elevated the case before the CA.
In its September 28, 2016 ruling, the appeals court thumbed down the verdict.
“While we do not dispute the finding of the RTC, we cannot subscribe to its conclusion that the acts and behavior of Sta. Maria indicate psychological incapacity which rendered her incapable of complying with the essential marital obligations,” the appeals court said.
The CA also held that Lacson’s psychological incapacity was not sufficiently proved.
“A psychological report prepared by clinical psychologist Dr. Visitacion Revita, which found Lacson to be suffering from a dependent type personality disorder, was offered in evidence,” the CA held.
“We note, however, that Lacson was not subjected to an actual evaluation by Dr. Revita, and the conclusions of Dr. Revita were exclusively derived from the information given by Sta. Maria and Abigail del Mundo who claims to be a common friend of Sta. Maria and Lacson,” it said.

CJ echoes Charter commitment to protect human rights

Friday, 03 February 2017 00:00 Published in Nation

Supreme Court Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno yesterday echoed the Constitution’s commitment to protect human rights on the 30th anniversary of the passing of the Charter.

“We consider that only a Constitution, such as the 1987 Constitution, that acknowledges cultural and religious diversity but stresses unity, nourishes liberty but allows dissent, protects national security but emphasizes human rights and human dignity may allow us to have a government that is stable, a democracy that is vibrant, and a rule of law that is consistent,” Sereno said in a statement yesterday.
“Thirty years since its ratification, we in the Supreme Court and the Judiciary today re-commit ourselves to the task of allowing our people to realize their hopes and aspirations of a society that is more just, humane and equal by ensuring that the courts are firm, fair and free,” she added.
Written in a little over three months days by a  small group of 50 women and men comprising the 1986 Constitutional Commission, the 1986 draft Constitution was sent to the sovereign people for their judgment on February 2, 1987.
Ratified by 16,622, 111 affirmative votes (representing 76.30 percent of the total votes cast) as opposed to 4,953,375 negative votes (representing 22.74o/o of the total votes cast), the 1986 draft Constitution officially became “The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines.”
The 1987 Constitution formed the backbone for the new democracy ushered in by the force of the people power revolution of 1986. Ending the revolutionary government put in place by then President Corazon Aquino’s Proclamation No. 3, the 1987 Constitution also provided rich and fertile ground for the rule of law to be nourished, to grow and to bear fruit. This it did with a renewed focus on human rights and civil liberties, an emphasis on sovereignty, and institutional protection for the independence of the judiciary.


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