San Miguel: Supreme Court to replace appointees on board of directors

The Supreme Court (SC) has thumbed down a motion by a group representing 1.4 million coconut farmers to intervene in the government“s petition to replace five appointees of former President Joseph Es…

The Supreme Court (SC) has thumbed down a motion by a group representing 1.4 million coconut farmers to intervene in the government“s petition to replace five appointees of former President Joseph Estrada on the board of directors of San Miguel Corp. (SMC), the Philippine food and beverage giant. In a three-page decision, the High Court ruled the Philippine Coconut Producers Federation, Inc. (Cocofed) “will not be affected, adversely or otherwise, should the individual respondents be replaced by the Macapagal-Arroyo nominees as SMC directors.” When president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo assumed the presidency last 20 January, she expressed her desire that Renato Valencia, Octavio Espiritu, Maj. Gen. Leo S. Alvez, Justice Hector Hofilena and Franklin Fuentabella be elected as directors of SMC, replacing all five Estrada nominees. Raul de Guzman, Allan Lee, Espiridion Laxa, Benjamin Paulino and Hermogenes Tantoco, however, refused to give up their directorial seats in SMC, insisting they will never resign from the conglomerate as they owe it to the stockholders to serve their full term. The five claimed they have a debt of gratitude to the shareholders who voted for them and that they deserve to remain in office as SMC raked in huge profits with them at its helm. This prompted government lawyers to sue the five Estrada nominees to compel them to vacate their positions and be prohibited from discharging their powers and functions. The Office of the Solicitor General sought to boot out the five by asking the High Court to order SMC and its corporate secretary to reopen the nomination process and reconvene the Nominations Committee to allow new nominees to be elected as SMC directors in the May 2001 election or any subsequent election. The Cocofed, through its president Maria Clara Lobregat and its board of directors Domingo Espina, Jose Gomez, Celestino Sabate, Manuel del Rosario, Jose Martinez, Jr. and Eladio Chatto, has insisted it has a legal interest in the matter under litigation since it represents more than one million Cocofed members.