POSTSCRIPT / November 19, 2009 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Courts must tell banks, corporate raiders to pay

WE’RE HELPLESS?: When we small, nervous owners of shares in publicly listed corporations see wanton dissipation of the assets of the firms that we co-own, what do we do?

What do we do when fast operators who are not even stockholders are able to convince managers of depository banks that they are officers and then withdraw millions upon millions of corporate funds despite the formal protests of the legitimate board of directors?

To whom do we run when we suspect complicity among bogus officers, their friends in the banks and justices who recklessly issue TROs (temporary restraining orders) to hold back judges who had acted after seeing the injustice of corporate raiding?

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PHC LOOTED: I ask these questions as one of some 2,500 private shareholders of the Philcomsat Holdings Corp., 81-percent of whose stock is owned by the Philippine Communications Satellite Corp.

The PHC started commercial operations as a holding company on Jan. 1, 2000. It has never been sequestered, but agents of the Presidential Commission on Good Government managed to gain access to its board and to its asset base of almost P1.5 billion.

The main business of PHC is just collecting rent and earnings from money placements, activities that a staff of three can very well handle. Yet PCGG agents who had jumped into the board routinely withdrew an average of P10 million a month for operations.

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WORTHLESS PAPER?: The unusual disbursements have been confirmed by independent auditors who unearthed big checks made out to “Cash” and encashed by messengers who must have been known to bank officials.

Latest financial statements show that after the massive disbursements, PHC now has less than P900 in assets, of which less than P400 million is in cash.

We small stockholders fear being left holding worthless pieces of paper if the courts will be unwilling or unable to compel corporate raiders and their cohorts in the banks to pay back the millions illegally taken from PHC over the years.

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WHO’S LEGIT: So the banks and the business community will know the legitimate PHC officers, we lift their names from the official website of the Securities and Exchange Commission as of Aug. 20, 2009.

They are: Katrina C. Ponce-Enrile, chairman; Ramon P. Jacinto, president; Marietta K. Ilusorio, vice president; Erlinda I. Bildner, treasurer; Victoria C. delos Reyes, corporate secretary; John Benedict Sioson, asst. corporate secretary; and Lorna Patajo-Kapunan, compliance officer.

As of May 13, 2009, these are the members (directors) of the board listed by the SEC: Ramon P. Jacinto, Daniel C. Gutierrez, Abraham R. Abesamis, Rodolfo G. Serrano Jr., Katrina C. Ponce-Enrile, Erlinda I. Bildner, Honorio A. Poblador III, Pablo L. Lobregat, Prudencio C. Somera, Oliverio G. Laperal and Jose Ma. Ozamiz.

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OBAMA BOW: Why should Americans be agitated or offended by news photos of US President Obama bowing to Japan’s Emperor Akihito when the two met in Tokyo days ago?

That scene generated so much noise in Washington as pundits demanded if the US president had disgraced his country by that deep bow at the waist. His critics said he should “stand tall” when representing his country.

Some commentator recalled that former US Vice President Dick Cheney, who also greeted the Emperor in 2007, did it with just a handshake but no bow.

Another one exclaimed on CNN: “It’s ugly. I don’t want to see it… We don’t defer to kings or emperors.”

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SWELLHEADS: Methinks many American are suffering from some incurable complex, and it is showing in their reaction to Obama’s correct posture (in my view) while meeting with the Emperor.

Americans should be reminded that they gain nothing, but more enemies, when they strut around as swellheads.

Bowing courteously to the emperor, even if one were the president of the mighty US, does not diminish the person and his office. In fact, it adds to his humanity.

On the phone when talking to strangers, we Filipinos say “po” as a sign of courtesy or respect. We lose nothing by being courteous.

Have you noticed the service crew of burger houses who always address customers as “Ma’am” or “Sir” regardless of how they look? That is not demeaning. It is, I think, fine form.

If we follow the line of Obama’s critics, a Catholic US president calling on the Pope at the Vatican should not bend and kiss the pastoral ring of the Pontiff as that would demean the President’s office and his country’s stature in the eyes of the world.

That is rubbish. But then, Obama is their president and the US is their country.

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SHORT LIST: NP VS LP BATTLE: For a while there, I thought Sen. Manny Villar, the Nacionalista presidential bet, would end up with another showbiz character for his vice presdential partner.

His teaming up with Sen. Loren Legarda of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, reduces the May 2010 national elections to a showdown between the Villar-Legarda team and the tandem of senators Noynoy Aquino and Mar Roxas of the Liberal Party.

It reconfigures the fight into a return bout of the old NP and LP, back to the two-party system. The minor parties, even the administration coalition, will fall by the wayside.

Imagine, if Villar got actress-now-governor Vilma Santos or TV show host Willie Revillame or newsreader-now-vice president Noli de Castro for his running mate. That would mean that he was — like administration candidate Gilberto Teodoro drafting TV game host Edu Manzano — scrapping the bottom of the barrel.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of November 19, 2009)

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