Palace exec: Arroyo to step into pre-need mess
MARK MERUEÑAS, GMANews.TV
02/04/2009 | 01:05 PM
Feb. 4, 2009
MANILA, Philippines – After being challenged by a group of plan holders to step in, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will look into the pre-need industry mess when she comes back from the US, a senior Palace official said Wednesday.
In a radio interview, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said that in deciding the fate of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), President Arroyo will study the agency’s performance in monitoring and regulating pre-need firms in the country.
Remonde assured that the Palace would be using as one of its basis the results of the initial investigations of both the Senate and House of Representatives on the scandal.
The assurance came after plan holders group Parents Empowering Parents (PEP) Coalition urged President Arroyo to get involved in getting at the bottom of the pre-need anomaly.
The PEP Coalition initially went after the Yuchengco group, former owner of the Pacific Plans Inc, and filed the first of a series of charges.
The plan holders group then veered their attention toward the SEC and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). Coalition president Philip Piccio said the Palace should implement a reform in the two government agencies.
The PEP Coalition also urged the Palace to sack SEC and BSP officials who would be found responsible for the mess. Remonde, however, said the concerned officials should first be given the chance to fully explain their sides.
After SEC head Fe Barin was heavily grilled by senators during their probe last Monday, National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) director general Ralph Recto immediately rushed to the side of the SEC, saying he would meet with its officials to discuss measures on how to bolster the latter’s regulatory powers over pre-need firms.
Recto expressed his sympathies with Barin and said that additional budget should be earmarked for the SEC for it to perform its duty. During the Senate inquiry, Barin said the SEC only has 400 personnel to watch over some 60 local pre-need companies, an indication that the agency was undermanned.
Like Barin’s claims, Recto admitted that the SEC is lacking in technical and audit personnel to ensure proper monitoring of all the pre-need firms in the country.
Remonde reiterated that President Arroyo would certainly take up the controversy once she returns from the US.
After attending the economic forum of world leaders in Davos, Switzerland, the President went on to visit Italy and Bahrain before finally stopping over in the US. – GMANews.TV
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