President Rodrigo Duterte’s crusade against illegal drugs and criminality has spawned criticism from those who accuse the government of being too narrow in its focus, and of being anti-poor.
But the recent decision of the Securities and Exchange Commission disqualifying former trade minister Roberto Ongpin from the board of any publicly listed company ‘for committing insider trading in the sale of Philex Mining shares in 2009 ‘ disproves both allegations. It shows that the President’s anti-crime campaign cuts, not just across every level, but also invloves all sectors of Philippine society.
According to news reports, the SEC decided to impose the maximum penalties in order to ‘quell if not totally eliminate insider trading and other fraudulent manipulative devices and practices which create distortions in the free market.’
Aside from ordering his disqualification, Ongpin was also ordered to pay a fine of P174 million, or P1 million for each count of insider trading. This is based on Section 54.1 of the Securities regulation code, and is substantially higher than the P17.4-million fine recommended by SEC’s enforcement and investor protection department
And while Ongpin denies any wrong doing and has appealed the SEC decision, the writing on the wall is very clear – there is a new sheriff in town and he is cleaning house from top to bottom. Law and order is coming, not just for crimes committed on the streets, but also for those that happen within the secret confines and boardrooms of the country’s top corporations.
Incidentally Ongpin also sits on the board of Philweb, the top online gambling provider for the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor). Online gambling has been in the news recently after President Duterte ordered Pagcor chair Andrea Domingo to cancel “sometime soon” all online gambling licenses that have already been issued.