Priest, lawyer denounce irregularity in Coco levy SC ruling

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MANILA, September 21, 2012—A Catholic priest and lawyer denounced the irregularity of the Supreme Court ruling last April 2011, awarding a 20% share of Eduardo ‘Danding’ Cojuanco in San Miguel Corporation.

CBCP’s National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) through its executive secretary, Fr. Edu Gariguez, said that they have filed a petition at the Supreme Court citing a law that defines ill-gotten wealth.

“There is an irregularity in interpreting the law. As of the moment, we wanted them to know that there is a clear definition of ill-gotten wealth and they must also check the case again,” Gariguez said.

Gariguez expressed dismay on the SC’s decision saying that the high court justices who favored Cojuangco did not open their eyes to seek the truth that there is a clear definition, prior to their earlier ruling that there is no definition of ill-gotten wealth.

“This is important because it will be the bases of their decision to re-assess that the farmers can recover the money from Danding,” Gariguez added.

Gariguez shared that he has firsthand knowledge on the issue of coco levy because when he was a child, they had a coconut plantation.

Meanwhile, Atty. Marco Sardillo, a volunteer lawyer for the farmers’ coalition said that they also have filed a complaint in the Supreme Court’s Ethics Committee on its decision favoring Mr. Cojuangco last April 2011.

Sardillo cannot comment on the outcome of the complaint that they will file because it will be the first time that it is filed directly in the ethics committee.

“But it is stated in the internal rule of the supreme court that complains on ethical violations or allegation on graft and corruption will be investigated first in the ethics committee of SC, so that those anonymous complaints will be allowed,” Sardillo said.

The lawyer disclosed coconut farmers has a lot of questions on the April 2011 high court decision particularly on the meaning of ill-gotten wealth, but it is clear that since 1986, the Presidential Council on Good Governance (PCGG) rule Section 1-A states a clear definition on ill-gotten wealth.

He also explained that a clear definition is stated in the Republic Act 7090 or the Plunder Law.

“We are clueless why they [the SC] are saying that there is no such law, in fact, the supreme court reverted that on January 2012. And that the high court used Section 3 of PCCG Rules that there is a clear definition of ill-gotten wealth,” Sardillo furthered.

In April 2011, the Supreme Court voted 7-4-4 awarding 20% of San Miguel shares to Cojuangco.

The SC also ruled there was no definition of ill-gotten wealth by citing Section 3 of the PCGG rules and regulations, and that the close association between former president Ferdinand Marcos and Danding Cojuangco had to be proven in order to establish a case for ill-gotten wealth. (Jandel Posion)


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