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Thursday, April 25, 2024

Court upholds ruling on telecom firms

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The Court of Appeals has sustained the resolution of the Department of Justice resolution dismissing the  P100-million estafa case filed against officials of Philcomsat Holdings Corp., Philcomsat and the Philippine Overseas Telecommunication Corp. 

In a two-page resolution, the CA’s Former Special Third Division ruled that PHC, through Erlinda Ilusorio-Bildner, failed to raise new issues that would warrant a reversal of its March 29, 2016 decision. 

“A perusal of the motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner of the Court’s decision promulgated on March 29, 2016 shows that the issues raised and arguments in support thereof have already been given due consideration and resolved,”   the resolution written by Associate Justice Myra V. Garcia-Fernandez stated. 

“Thus, this court finds no new or substantial matters to justify a modification or reversal of the assailed decision,” the appellate court said. 

Bildner filed the estafa case against Enrique L. Locsin, Philip G. Brodett, Benito V. Araneta, Luis K. Lokin Jr., Manuel D. Antal, Julio Jalandoni and Guy De Leon. She accused the respondents of misrepresenting themselves to the public that they are members of the Board of Directors of PHC, Philcomsat and POTC. 

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According to her, because of the misrepresentation, the respondents were able to siphon out PHC’s corporate funds in various forms from 2003 to 2007 worth P122, 199, 459.00, which were booked under “advances to affiliates” but said funds were never credited to POTC or Philcomsat.

However, the respondents asserted that Ilusorio-Bildner has no authority to represent PHC because she belonged to a group claiming to be PHC’s Board of Directors when there exist a legitimate board of directors and that the documents used as evidence against them were manipulated and presented without authentication. 

The Makati City prosecutor dismissed the case for lack of probable cause on ground that the complainant failed to present the original copies of the balance sheets, accounting records and other supporting documents. 

The prosecutor noted there was no indication or identity of the person who prepared and examined the balance sheets. The balance sheet, according to the prosecutor, “is a mere statement of assets, liabilities and stockholders’ equity.”

When a petition for review was filed with the DoJ, it was dismissed by Prosecutor General Claro Arellano. Then, a motion for reconsideration was filed, but was denied by then DoJ secretary now Senator Leila De Lima. The complainant brought the case before the appellate court.

In ruling against Bildner, the CA held that “the petition is bereft of merit.” 

“This Court finds that the respondent DOJ Secretary correctly concluded that the documents submitted by petitioner did not constitute prima facie case for estafa against private respondents,” the CA stressed.

Associate Justices Mario V. Lopez and Jhosep Y. Lopez concurred with the ruling.

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