Pre-need firm’s assets sought to cover plan holders’ claims
Feb. 11, 2009
A SENATE panel has asked the owner of a beleaguered financial group to submit a statement of assets and liabilities (SAL) as basis for liquidating properties to pay the claims of pre-need plan holders.
Senator Manuel A. Roxas II, chairman of the committee on trade and commerce that handles the investigation into the collapse of the Legacy Group, yesterday bared during a hearing several properties of Sto. Domingo, Albay Mayor Celso delos Angeles, Jr., including four luxury vehicles, a mansion in Cebu and a yacht docked in Sto. Domingo.
Mr. delos Angeles, who admitted he owned the properties, promised to submit his SAL to the committee.
Mr. Roxas said the properties, which are worth at least P100 million, could be attached to retrieve pre-need plan holders’ claims of over P1.1 billion.
“These properties should be sheriffed, should be attached by proper government agencies. The fruits of his [Mr. delos Angeles’] enterprise should go to the plan holders,” said Mr. Roxas in a news conference after the hearing.
Mr. delos Angeles said there are “sufficient funds” in the trust fund to pay the claims of plan holders. Officials had earlier said the amount in the trust fund stood at P300 million.
Pre-need firms’ closure?
Philip H. Piccio, president of Parents Enabling Parents Coalition fighting for the claims of plan holders, raised the rumored imminent collapse of four pre-need companies.
He criticized the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for having been remiss in ensuring the welfare of thousands of plan holders.
“How come the SEC is not even announcing that there is another pre-need company that will collapse anytime now? The smoke is so strong, everyday we get complaints for the past year already of them not being paid,” Mr. Piccio told senators during the hearing.
SEC Chairman Fe B. Barin refused to identify the companies, saying they would submit a formal report to the Senate “because it’s very difficult, it’s very dangerous for us to err.”
“Then maybe Mr. Piccio would know [the firms] because he’s the one saying it,” she told reporters.
Ms. Barin, however, confirmed that Pryce Plans, Inc. is “switching benefits” and is only paying its plan holders medicines and cooking gas, instead of the promised investment returns. She refused to elaborate when asked if Pryce was among the troubled companies.
“If ever there’s a case where there is a switching of benefits that is actually deposited, this is already a servicing pre-need plan and this is the Pryce Plans because the information that we received is instead of delivering the benefits promised, they just pay them medicine, so they pay some cooking gas,” said Jose P. Aquino, director of the SEC’s nontraditional securities and instruments department.
“I know for one that Pryce is no longer selling plans,” said Ms. Barin. — Bernard U. Allauigan