Lopez Holdings

 

Statement read by Atty. Barbara Anne C. Migallos There has recently been significant media interest in a block of shares of stock of Equitable PCI Bank, representing about 7.13% of the Bank's outstanding capital (the "Shares"). These Shares are registered in the name of Trans Middle East Equities Philippines, Inc. (Trans Middle East). They were sequestered by the PCGG on the allegation that they are ill-gotten wealth of Benjamin (Kokoy) Romualdez, Ferdinand E. Marcos, et al.


Only two claimants to the Shares are usually mentioned in most accounts and reports: (1) the Republic, thru the PCGG; and (2) TMEE, the corporation in whose name the Shares are registered.

First Philippine Holdings Corporation believes it is appropriate to clarify that First Holdings also claims ownership of the Equitable PCI Bank shares registered in the name of Trans Middle East. First Holdings is seeking the recovery of the Shares in Sandiganbayan Civil Case No. 0035, where it is a plaintiff-intervenor. First Holdings asserts, in its pleadings before the Sandiganbayan, that ownership of the Shares was wrested from it during the regime of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos through the use and abuse of power, force, threats, intimidation, and fraud.

A brief history is appropriate. First Holdings was formerly named Meralco Securities Corporation. The Lopez family had a controlling interest in Meralco Securities, which owned the shares of the Manila Electric Company, or Meralco.

As stated in the pleadings of First Holdings before the Sandiganbayan, after former President Marcos declared martial law in September 1972, he ordered the take-over of Meralco. Eugenio Lopez, Jr. was arbitrarily arrested and placed under indefinite detention. Fernando Lopez was stripped of the Vice Presidency of the Republic. Manila Chronicle and ABS-CBN were closed, and their buildings and equipment were seized without compensation. The rate increase awarded to Meralco due to the extraordinary increases in oil prices was arbitrarily and significantly reduced, rendering Meralco unable to meet its obligations.

First Holdings states in its Complaint-in Intervention that in view of the unconscionable pressure, the use, misuse and abuse of power, the threat and intimidation, for the peace and security of his family, Don Eugenio Lopez, Sr. had no choice but to agree to turn over control and management of Meralco Securities and other Benpres assets to the Marcos-Romualdez group. The name of Meralco Securities was changed to First Philippine Holdings Corporation.

In 1984, during the Marcos regime, the Shares, which were then shares of Philippine Commercial International Bank or PCIB, were transferred to Trans Middle East. The book value of the Shares at that time was P104 Million, and they had entitlement to more than 5 million convertible preferred shares. But the Shares were transferred to Trans Middle East for only P47 Million. At the time, Trans Middle East was a newly incorporated corporation with a paid up capital of only P2 Million.

First Holdings intervened in the Sandiganbayan because it believes that it is entitled to the return of the Equitable PCI Bank shares that are now registered in the name of Trans Middle East.

Recent news items included reports that in October 2005, Mr. Martin Romualdez, a former Chairman of Equitable PCI Bank, withdrew about P138 Million from dividends and profit sharing on the Shares. These dividends were held in escrow pursuant to an order of the Sandiganbayan.

STATEMENT read by Atty. Barbara Anne C. Migallos

There has recently been significant media interest in a block of shares of stock of Equitable PCI Bank, representing about 7.13% of the Bank's outstanding capital (the "Shares"). These Shares are registered in the name of Trans Middle East Equities Philippines, Inc. (Trans Middle East). They were sequestered by the PCGG on the allegation that they are ill-gotten wealth of Benjamin (Kokoy) Romualdez, Ferdinand E. Marcos, et al.

Only two claimants to the Shares are usually mentioned in most accounts and reports: (1) the Republic, thru the PCGG; and (2) TMEE, the corporation in whose name the Shares are registered.

First Philippine Holdings Corporation believes it is appropriate to clarify that First Holdings also claims ownership of the Equitable PCI Bank shares registered in the name of Trans Middle East. First Holdings is seeking the recovery of the Shares in Sandiganbayan Civil Case No. 0035, where it is a plaintiff-intervenor. First Holdings asserts, in its pleadings before the Sandiganbayan, that ownership of the Shares was wrested from it during the regime of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos through the use and abuse of power, force, threats, intimidation, and fraud.

A brief history is appropriate. First Holdings was formerly named Meralco Securities Corporation. The Lopez family had a controlling interest in Meralco Securities, which owned the shares of the Manila Electric Company, or Meralco.

As stated in the pleadings of First Holdings before the Sandiganbayan, after former President Marcos declared martial law in September 1972, he ordered the take-over of Meralco. Eugenio Lopez, Jr. was arbitrarily arrested and placed under indefinite detention. Fernando Lopez was stripped of the Vice Presidency of the Republic. Manila Chronicle and ABS-CBN were closed, and their buildings and equipment were seized without compensation. The rate increase awarded to Meralco due to the extraordinary increases in oil prices was arbitrarily and significantly reduced, rendering Meralco unable to meet its obligations.

First Holdings states in its Complaint-in Intervention that in view of the unconscionable pressure, the use, misuse and abuse of power, the threat and intimidation, for the peace and security of his family, Don Eugenio Lopez, Sr. had no choice but to agree to turn over control and management of Meralco Securities and other Benpres assets to the Marcos-Romualdez group. The name of Meralco Securities was changed to First Philippine Holdings Corporation.

In 1984, during the Marcos regime, the Shares, which were then shares of Philippine Commercial International Bank or PCIB, were transferred to Trans Middle East. The book value of the Shares at that time was P104 Million, and they had entitlement to more than 5 million convertible preferred shares. But the Shares were transferred to Trans Middle East for only P47 Million. At the time, Trans Middle East was a newly incorporated corporation with a paid up capital of only P2 Million.

First Holdings intervened in the Sandiganbayan because it believes that it is entitled to the return of the Equitable PCI Bank shares that are now registered in the name of Trans Middle East.

Recent news items included reports that in October 2005, Mr. Martin Romualdez, a former Chairman of Equitable PCI Bank, withdrew about P138 Million from dividends and profit sharing on the Shares. These dividends were held in escrow pursuant to an order of the Sandiganbayan. First Holdings has caused the filing in Sandiganbayan Civil Case No. 0035, the ill-gotten wealth case against Ferdinand E. Marcos and Benjamin (Kokoy) Romualdez, et al., of a motion to require Equitable PCI Bank to explain the reported release of dividends on the Shares that are held in escrow and, in the event it is established that there was in fact a withdrawal from the escrow account, to require the return of the amounts withdrawn from escrow. First Holdings also caused the filing of another motion before the Sandiganbayan, a motion seeking an opportunity to be heard on the Escrow Agreement that the Court, in a resolution promulgated on June 14, 2006, required the parties to submit for its approval. 

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Lopez Holdings Corporation 
16/F North Tower, Rockwell Business Center Sheridan, Sheridan St. corner United St., 1550 Bgy. Highway Hills, Mandaluyong City, Philippines

  • Trunkline: (632) 8878 0000
  • Fax: (632) 8878 0000 ext 2009
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