November 22, 2018 at 12:30 am
Charlie V. Manalo
"The regulatory body should not be dragged into fights such as this one."
Is the Securities and Exchange Commission being used by certain unscrupulous parties to get back at their enemies?
The concern has been expressed in business circles recently in the wake of news items that a Mindanao-based Church group is allegedly being harassed by certain powerful personalities.
It appears the head pastor of the said religious organization has offended these influential persons who have access to key government agencies.
The said church group is called Kapa-Community Ministry International, apparently with roots from Sarangani province. It is headed by a certain Pastor Joel Apolinario, a low-key but influential spiritual leader in that part of the country.
The church group’s woes would not have caught attention if the SEC were not brought into a reported conflict between the religious leader and influential figures in Mindanao. Based on accounts from media and our own sources, the group’s woes began when Apolinario became the object of extortion attempts. The perpetrators were supposed to have been caught in the act by operatives of the National Bureau of Investigation.
The spiritual leader has also reportedly caught the ire of a politician from the south who did not relish the growing influence and following of the church group. It is interesting, observers note, that in the aftermath of these skirmishes with these powerful parties, news items came out citing an SEC advisory against the Kapa-Community.
In the SEC advisory, the regulatory body raised concerns that the church group may be soliciting supposed investments from the public and enticing them with promises of “high returns”. The church group is now reeling under the negative effects of the said advisory.
There are now worries that the SEC may have been fed misleading information.
The spokesperson of the church group has belied the accusations. It was pointed out that what was conveyed to the SEC as “soliciting investments” may have actually been the church group’s ongoing efforts to raise funds for its mission, upkeep and support for its needy members.
The church group deserves the benefit of the doubt since even the biggest religious organizations in the country ask for donations. It is no secret that these giant church groups obtain donations in the hundreds of millions, tax-free. One particular global church may have even channeled such donations to the purchase of stakes in several blue chip companies and hospitals in the country.
Why the SEC should pick on the fund-raising efforts of a grassroots-based Filipino church group baffles us.
We can only surmise that the whole story behind may have been misrepresented before the SEC. It may not be far-fetched that the misrepresented story could have come from powerful parties whose interests have been adversely affected by the presence and mission of Apolinario’s small-town church.
The public would not have cared for the plight of the Kapa-Community. After all, not everyone is a fan of Billy Graham-type bible-quoting, fiery preachers which Apolinario appears to be. However, what worries us is that the SEC may have become the unwitting tool in some people’s bid to get back at the pastor. We would not have worried about this quarrel if not for the fact that an important and respected national agency like the SEC were dragged into it.
There are two things we hope would happen here. First, that the SEC would immediately get down to the bottom of the issue hounding this small-town church group, and that it would give the said group its proverbial “day in court.” It deserves due process and a fair hearing.
Second, that the SEC would be careful not to allow itself to be used by shadowy but influential quarters in the latter’s bid to neutralize perceived enemies.
According to media reports, the KAPA head said the church group has already explained to the SEC that the allegations that it has been soliciting investments with promises of high yield from the public “are misleading and have no basis in fact.”
The group has expressed its confidence that the SEC will “appreciate the truth” and resolve the issues facing the group “with fairness and impartiality.”
Apolinario said the SEC has also been informed that “there are certain persons determined to prevent KAPA from fulfilling its religious mission and calling.”
He said the KMCI is confident that the SEC “will not allow itself to be a tool of those who oppose our mission.”
The SEC has an important role in the country. Its job is too vital and its time too precious for it to be dragged into fights like this one.