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PCGG v. Hon.



The PCGG issued and implemented numerous sequestrations, freeze orders and provisional takeovers of
allegedly ill-gotten companies, assets and properties, real or personal. Among the properties
sequestered by the Commission were shares of stock in the United Coconut

Planters Bank (UCPB) registered in the names of the alleged “one million coconut farmers,”

the so-called Coconut Industry Investment Fund companies (CIIF companies) and Private Respondent
Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. In connection with the sequestration of the said UCPB shares, the PCGG, on July
31, 1987, instituted an action for reconveyance, reversion, accounting, restitution and damages
docketed as Case No. 0033 in the Sandiganbayan. On November 15, 1990, upon Motion of Private
Respondent COCOFED, the Sandiganbayan issued a Resolution lifting the sequestration of the subject
UCPB shares on the ground that herein private respondents

in particular, COCOFED and the so-called CIIF companies

had not been impleaded by the PCGG as parties-defendants in its July 31, 1987 Complaint for
reconveyance, reversion, accounting, restitution and damages. This Sandiganbayan Resolution was
challenged by the PCGG in a Petition for Certiorari docketed as GR No. 96073 in this Court. Meanwhile,
upon motion of Cojuangco, the anti-graft court ordered the holding of elections for the Board of
Directors of UCPB. However, the PCGG applied for and was granted by this Court a Restraining Order
enjoining the holding of the election. Subsequently, the Court lifted the Restraining Order and ordered
the UCPB to proceed with the election of its board of directors. Furthermore, it allowed the
sequestered shares to be voted by their registered owners.

On February 23, 2001, “COCOFED, et al. and Ballares, et al.” filed the “Class Action Omnibus Motion”
referred to earlier in Sandiganbayan Civil Case Nos. 0033

-A, 0033-B and 0033-F, asking the court a quo:

“1. To enjoin the PCGG from voting the UCPB

shares of stock registered in the respective names of the more than one million coconut farmers; and

“2. To enjoin the PCGG from voting the SMC shares registered in the names of the 14 CIIF

holding companies including those registered in the name of the PC


Who may vote the sequestered UCPB shares while the main case for their reversion to the State is
pending in the Sandiganbayan?


This Court holds that the government should be allowed to continue voting those shares inasmuch as
they were purchased with coconut levy funds

funds that are prima facie

public in character or, at the very least, are “clearly affected with public interest.”


Both UCPB and COCOLIFE assert their rights in separate civil actions over their alleged shares in 14 CIIF
companies and CIIF San Miguel Corp Block shares (BOTH WORTH BILLIONS OF PESOS). They filed for
DECLARATORY RELIEF with RTC seeking from the court the to declare their rights over the shares.

PCGG contended this saying that they were already estopped and the RTC has no jurisdiction, since the
case was already decided in numerous SC decisions already and such action for declaratory relief was
said to actually modify or alter the final and executor decision in COCOFED v. REPUBLIC.


UCPB et al question the authority of Commissioner Vicente L. Gengos, Jr. in filing the present petitions
before the Court and signing the Verification and Certification Against Forum Shopping. They point out
that the PCGG is a collegial body created by virtue of EO 1, and it may function only as

such “Commission.”

Consequently, the present action should have been properly authorized by all members of the

They contended that the SUBJECT MATTER raised in the declaratory relief was their investments in the
companies and not the Coco Levy Fund itself, hence the RTC has jurisdiction and they are not estopped.


On February 26, 2014 in G.R. No. 210901, we (SC) issued a temporary restraining order (TRO)
immediately enjoining the respondent judge, the RTC of Makati City, Branch 59, their representatives,
agents or other persons acting on their behalf, from proceeding with the hearing of the petitions for
declaratory relief in Civil Case Nos. 12-1251 and 12-1252. Likewise, a TRO was issued in G.R. No. 209447
enjoining the respondent judge from further hearing the said petitions for declaratory relief.



1) Non-compliance with the rule on Verification and Certification of Non-Forum Shopping which was
signed by only one PCGG Commissioner; OTHER MATTERS

2) Lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter of Civil Case Nos. 12-1251 and 12-1252; 3) Non-
compliance with the requisites of a petition for declaratory relief complied with; and 4) Application of

res judicata

and/or laches as bar to the suits for declaratory relief filed by UCPB and COCOLIFE.


Under Rule 46, Section 3, paragraph 3 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, petitions for
certiorari must be verified and accompanied by a sworn certification of non-forum shopping.

A pleading is verified by an affidavit that the affiant has read the pleading and that the allegations
therein are true and correct of his personal knowledge or based on authentic records. The party need
not sign the verification.

A party’s representative, lawyer

or any person who personally knows the truth of the facts alleged in the pleading may sign the
verification. On the other hand, a

certification of non-forum shopping

is a certification under oath by the plaintiff or principal party in the complaint or other initiatory
pleading asserting a claim for relief or in a sworn certification annexed thereto and simultaneously filed
therewith, (a) that he has not theretofore commenced any action or filed any claim involving the same
issues in any court, tribunal or quasi-judicial agency and, to the best of his knowledge, no such other
action or claim is pending therein; (b) if there is such other pending action or claim, a complete
statement of the present status thereof; and (c) if he should thereafter learn that the same or similar
action or claim has been filed or is pending, he shall report that fact within five (5) days therefrom to the
court wherein his aforesaid complaint or initiatory pleading has been filed. It is obligatory that the one
signing the verification and certification against forum shopping on behalf of the principal party or the
other petitioners has the authority to do the same. We hold that the signature of only one
Commissioner of petitioner PCGG in the verification and certification against forum shopping is not a
fatal defect. It has been consistently held that the verification of a pleading is only a formal, not a
jurisdictional, requirement. The purpose of requiring a verification is to secure an assurance that the
allegations in the petition are true and correct, not merely speculative.