Aggrieved members of the Manila Southwoods Golf and Country Club in Carmona, Cavite are fed up with the boardroom tactics of businessman Robert John “Bob” Sobrepeña of the Fil-Estate Group. They now want Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares to investigate the alleged unpaid taxes of Bob’s Fil-Estate to the tune of over P614 million.
The members claim that some 450 stock certificates of Southwoods have remained undelivered by Bob’s Fil-Estate to members and that capital gains taxes for the same number of shares were not paid. At an average price of P3 million from 1992 to 1995, the 450 shares that remain in possession of Fil-Estate have an average tax liability of P300,000 each, or a total of P135 million.
The members said including a surcharge of P33.75 million and a compounded interest (at 12 percent per annum) of P445.5 million in 22 years, Fil Estate’s tax liabilities amount to P614.25 million.
Fil-Estate, according to the members, accumulated the tax liabilities by allowing shareholders with no certificates to become members. “Instead of using stock certificate numbers for their accounts, members were given membership numbers, misleading members that they have proper documents,” a disappointed golfer said.
“The worst is since 2005 to present, the board of Southwoods authorized engineer Francisco Gonzalez to auction shares [of those] who do not have certificates. A total of at least 150 shares with no certificates have been resold, and capital gains tax again not paid,” he said.
The disgruntled members further claimed that Bob and the board had been using the undelivered shares as part of their proxies during election time.
“Many buyers of shares were accepted as members of the club but could not get delivery of the shares of stock of Manila Southwoods and therefore could not vote in the annual meeting of shareowners. Their shares were being proxied to Bob Sobrepeña by Fil-Estate,” he said.
Two members, Jaime Gosiaco and Hanson So, meanwhile, asked Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Teresita Herbosa to intervene in Southwoods, where the existing board of directors headed by Bob’s group “has conspired to perpetuate themselves in their position through a recurring failure to achieve a quorum in the annual stockholders’ meeting…”
Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon must have realized by now that it will take more than an Eliot Ness to dismantle the entrenched corruption in his agency. Changing the staqus quo in Customs has been an impossible task and Ruffy faces the specter of being swallowed by the same corrupt system now firmly in place, like the fate of those before him.
After two years in office, Biazon has not been lacking in detractors, who claim that he has not done enough and that he must resign, especially since President Benigno Aquino III publicly castigated the bureau in his State of the Nation Address in July.
While Ruffy did hand in his resignation letter to Malacañang, President Aquino did not accept it. That can only mean that he still enjoys the full confidence of the President. Ruffy then must do whatever it takes to clean up the graft-ridden Customs.
The reforms being implemented by Biazon are wide-ranging. There’s the computerization of all aspects of Customs operations to minimize human intervention and curtail opportunities for under-the-table deals by corrupt officials and personnel used to taking bribes from unscrupulous importers.
Biazon is also using new technology to deal with thieves. He will soon require the use of the satellite-based Global Positioning System to monitor the whereabouts of taxable goods that pass through Customs premises. The Customs chief indicated that there will be no sacred cows in the agency.
It is understandable that some Customs personnel are adamant in staying on and want to continue enjoy the perks and privileges of public office, where the sky’s the limit in so far as largesse is concerned. But with the reforms that Biazon has in mind, however, their days could be numbered.
The system-wide reforms that Biazon wants to implement would only come to naught, however, if the individuals who make up the agency are totally resistant to change. Biazon has already spent considerable time in the past two years re-orienting their mindsets toward real public service. This will take time but it can be done.
E-mail: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com