Lopez Holdings

 

Lopezes pursue claim on Equitable PCIBank shares The Lopez family, through First Philippine Holdings Corporation (FPHC), renewed its claim on Equitable PCIBank shares currently being voted by the c group through Trans Middle East (Philippines) Equity, Inc. (TMEE) FPHC filed on June 21 an urgent motion before the Sandiganbayan to compel TMEE to return any dividends released or withdrawn from escrow, while ownership of questioned Equitable PCIBank shares has not been determined with finality.


FPHC filed on June 21 an urgent motion before the Sandiganbayan to compel TMEE to return any dividends released or withdrawn from escrow, while ownership of questioned Equitable PCIBank shares has not been determined with finality.

In 1996, the Supreme Court upheld the right of FPHC to intervene in the case between the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) and TMEE at the Sandiganbayan since no final determination of ownership has been made.

FPHC wants to recover 51,827,555 Equitable PCIBank shares with a current market value of P3.809 billion (at P73.50 per share in the Philippine Stock Exchange). The shares represent 7.13% of the present outstanding capital stock of Equitable PCIBank.

FPHC asserts that "ownership (of Equitable PCIBank) was wrested from it through the use and abuse of power, force, pressure, threats and intimidation" during the Marcos regime.

The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) sequestered the shares in 1986 on the allegation that they are ill-gotten wealth of Benjamin "Kokoy" Romualdez. The Sandiganbayan lifted the sequestration in 2003 but ruled that the shares "be deposited with the Land Bank of the Philippines in escrow for the persons, natural or juridical, who shall eventually be adjudged lawfully entitled thereto."

In a Resolution promulgated on June 14, 2006, the Sandiganbayan held that the issuance of a writ of preliminary attachment is not necessary as the shares and dividends thereon will continue to be deposited in escrow.

However, Martin Romualdez was reported to have withdrawn P138 million representing dividends and profit-sharing from Equitable PCIBank. Although such withdrawal has not been confirmed by Equitable PCIBank corporate secretary Sabino Acut, Jr., FPHC filed the urgent motion to preserve the assets to which it has a claim.

FPHC also on June 21 filed a separate motion for the company to be given an opportunity to be heard with respect to the Escrow Agreement that the Sandiganbayan in its June 14, 2006 Resolution required PCGG and TMEE to prepare for court approval. As claimant and intervenor in the case, FPHC has a "direct and legitimate interest in the share and all dividends to be covered by the Escrow Agreement."

The court pleadings were filed by Atty. Barbara Anne C. Migallos as counsel for FPHC.

In a statement, brothers Oscar M. Lopez and Manuel M. Lopez and their nephew Eugenio L. Lopez III (Gabby), said the family has not forgotten the injustice they suffered under the Marcos regime. The late Eugenio Lopez, Jr., eldest among the sons of patriotic industrialist Eugenio H. Lopez, Sr. and father of Gabby, was imprisoned by the dictatorship and used as bait to gain control over vast Lopez assets including among others, Meralco, ABS-CBN, the Manila Chronicle, telegraph company PT&T and PCIBank.

Oscar Lopez is chairman of FPHC while Manuel Lopez and Eugenio Lopez III are members of the board.

"We are a very forgiving people. But forgiveness must be met with good faith and remorse on the part of the wrongdoers. Nothing will ever compensate for the suffering wrought on my father and brother by the Marcos regime. But we who are left behind must continue fighting for justice so that generations to come will remember, by our example, to fight always for what's right. It could take a lifetime on a narrow and difficult road, but we will persevere," said Oscar Lopez. 

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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

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