Court of Appeals denies Rappler plea on SEC case

Robie de Guzman   •   March 11, 2019   •   1650

Court of Appeals facade (UNTV News)

MANILA, Philippines – The Court of Appeals (CA) has upheld its earlier decision declaring that the online news site Rappler is not fully owned by Filipinos.

In a resolution promulgated on February 21, 2019, CA rejected the plea of Rappler and its holding company, Rappler Holdings Corporation (RHC) to reverse its July 2018 decision to affirm the order of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in revoking its business articles of incorporation for alleged violation of ownership restrictions.

The SEC, in January 2018, cancelled Rappler’s registration for allegedly violating the constitutional requirement for mass media to be 100-percent Filipino-owned because it allowed Omidyar Network to hold Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDR).

The appellate court said in its ruling, that Rappler failed to raise any new argument, reiterating that there was no violation on the part of SEC when it revoked the online site’s registration due to ownership issue.

“After careful scrutiny of the instant motion, this court finds that it presents no compelling reason to justify the reconsideration of this court’s decision dated 26 July 2018. The arguments raised by petitioners are essentially the same as those that have already been discussed and were exhaustively passed upon in this Court’s decision,” the resolution read.

Rappler has long insisted that it is completely Filipino-owned and is not covered by a Philippine law prohibiting foreigners from owning a mass media entity.

The Court, however, said that Rappler is a mass media entity despite its argument that its online nature was not among the mass media acknowledged under the law, because its actions, as well as its articles of incorporations and by-law, stated that it is in the business not fully Filipino ownedof operating news, information and social network services.

CA also said that it needs further study on Omidyar Network’s action of donating all of its PDRs to Rappler staff, which Rappler claims to have already addressed what was previously found objectionable by SEC.

“It is incumbent upon the SEC to evaluate the terms and conditions of said alleged supervising donation and its legal effect, particularly, whether the same has the effect of mitigating, if not curing, the violation it found petitioners to have committed. If so, this may warrant a re-examination of the sanction of revocation of petitioners’ Certificates of Incorporation imposed by the SEC En Banc in the assailed decision,” CA said.

“In view of the said directive, this court will refrain from discussing the donation so as not to preempt the evaluation, and the subsequent finding and conclusion to be reached by the SEC. Besides, this court notes that petitioners are merely seeking partial reconsideration of this Court’s decision, which means that its ruling remanding the case and directing the SEC to conduct an evaluation of the legal effect of the alleged donation stands and binds petitioner,” the court concluded. – Robie de Guzman

Court orders arrest of KAPA Ministry founder, execs for fraud raps

Robie de Guzman   •   February 12, 2020

KAPA Ministry founder Joel Apolinario

MANILA, Philippines – A court in Bislig City, Surigao del Sur has ordered the arrest of Kapa Community Ministry International Inc. founder and other group executives on charges of investment fraud, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said Wednesday.

The Bislig City Regional Trial Court Branch 29 on February 11 issued warrants of arrest against Kapa founder and president Joel Apolinario, trustee Margie Danao and Corporate Secretary Reyna Apolinario along with promoter Marisol Diaz, Adelfa Fernandico, Moises Mopia and Reniones Catubigan.

In a statement, the SEC said the warrants of arrest were issued after prosecutors at the Department of Justice filed criminal charges against the group for violations of Republic Act 8799 or the Securities Regulation Code.

State prosecutors accused Kapa of “willfully, unlawfully and criminally” engaging in the selling or offering for sale or distribution of securities in the Philippines without a registration statement duly filed with and approved by the SEC. Kapa officials were also accused of promoting the investment scam.

In April 2019, the SEC revoked KAPA’s certificate of incorporation for serious misrepresentation of what it could do or was doing to the great prejudice of or damage to the general public.

Under its scheme, KAPA enticed the public to “donate” P10,000 in exchange for a 30% monthly “blessing” or “love gift” for life, without having to do anything other than shell out money and wait for the promised payout.

In June last year, the commission filed a criminal complaint against KAPA, for employing a Ponzi scheme, an investment program that offers impossibly high returns and pays investors using the money contributed by later investors.

In the same month, the SEC secured a freeze order from the Court of Appeals covering all bank funds and assets linked to the group.

Separate warrants of arrest against Fernandico and Mopia were issued by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court.

The SEC also reminded the public to exercise more caution and discernment as certain supporters and promoters of KAPA peddled false information about the group’s supposed revival.

Panelo to file libel charges against INQUIRER.net, Rappler

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 3, 2019

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo has announced he will file libel charges against online publications INQUIRER.net and Rappler.

This is due to their “malicious” reports about Panelo’s referral letter on former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez’s executive clemency plea.

According to Panelo, the same media outlets reported that he “recommended” the release of the former mayor. He clarified that he only “referred” it to the Bureau of Pardons and Parole (BPP).

READ: BPP: Panelo referred Sanchez’s clemency application

He is referring to Rappler’s article, “Panelo endorsed Sanchez’s letter for executive clemency.” INQUIRER.net also posted a tweet on the same issue.

“As I earlier said in the press briefing this morning, those articles are reeking with malice and it’s libelous in nature because it tends to impute an act to discredit me in public and to tarnish my honor,” he said.

“In view of this, I’m filing a libel case against net Inquirer and Rappler for publishing these malicious articles,” he added.

Panelo also said they are already drafting the said complaints.

In a statement, Rappler said the complaint is merely a diversionary tactic.

Rappler also calls on Panelo to answer the questions about his possible conflicts of interest.—AAC

SEC warns public against KAPA’s false claims

Robie de Guzman   •   August 28, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Securities and Exchange Commission is urging the public to exercise more caution and discernment amid disinformation campaigns being launched by investment scammers.

In a statement, the SEC particularly noted the false claims by Kapa-Community Ministry International (KAPA) on social media. Supposedly, the group was poised to secure the necessary licenses to resume its operations.

The commission said that recently, KAPA falsely claimed that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) released a statement purportedly approving its investment scheme and questioning delays on the part of the SEC.

The Central Bank has refuted such claim in a statement.

KAPA also falsely claimed that it already filed with the SEC an application for a secondary license to sell and offer for sale securities to the public.

But the commission said it has not received any application for a secondary license from KAPA, as verified by the SEC Company Registration and Monitoring Department (CRMD).

“Besides, KAPA does not have a juridical personality to make such application,” it said.

On April 3, the SEC revoked KAPA’s certificate of incorporation for serious misrepresentation of what it could do or was doing to the great prejudice of or damage to the general public.

“KAPA, formerly registered with the SEC as a nonstock corporation, had solicited investments from the public without securing a secondary license first. Worse, the group had employed a Ponzi scheme,” the commission said.

Under its scheme, the SEC said KAPA enticed the public to “donate” P10,000 in exchange for a 30% monthly “blessing” or “love gift” for life, without having to do anything other than shell out money and wait for the promised payout.

Section 8 of Republic Act No. 8799, or the Securities Regulation Code, provides that “securities shall not be sold or offered for sale or distribution within the Philippines, without a registration statement duly filed with and approved by the Commission.”

Section 26 of the same Code further prohibits fraudulent transactions, including Ponzi schemes where investors are lured with impossibly high returns and paid using money contributed by other investors

Section 28 further states that no person shall engage in the business of buying or selling securities in the Philippines as a broker or dealer, or act as a salesman, or an associated person of any broker or dealer unless registered with the SEC.

In this light, the SEC said that those acting as salesman, broker or agent may be prosecuted and held criminally liable. They may also face a maximum fine of P5 million or imprisonment of 21 years or both, under the Securities Regulation Code.

On June 18, the commission filed a criminal complaint against KAPA, its founder and president Joel A. Apolinario, trustee Margie A. Danao, corporate secretary Reyna L. Apolinario and other promoters of the investment scam.

“We enjoin the investing public to be more discerning with and critical of any promises and persuasions made by fraudsters,” SEC Chairperson Emilio B. Aquino said.

“When presented an investment opportunity, take time to verify the legitimacy of the company, especially their authority to solicit investments from the public, and to understand how the promised returns will be generated and delivered.”

The commission advised those who have invested money in KAPA to file complaints with the SEC Enforcement and Investor Protection Department at Secretariat Building, PICC Complex, Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City with telephone numbers (02) 818-6337 and (02) 818-5324.

Affected investors may also visit the SEC Davao City Extension Office at SDC Building, Purok 13, Maa Road, Maa, Davao City; call (082) 298-2170 and (082) 298- 1893; or email kjpestares@sec.gov.ph. In Cagayan de Oro City, they may visit the Commission at SEC Building, corner 14th and Tomasco Del Lara Street; call (088) 857-4325 and (088) 857-7225; or email rvegypto@sec.gov.ph.

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