THE FREEMAN/JOY TORREJOS
A GENERAL Santos (GenSan) City court has junked Kapa-Community Ministry International, Inc.’s (KAPA) petition for injunction against the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), citing lack of jurisdiction over the matter.
In a statement Wednesday, the SEC said the GenSan Regional Trial Court Branch 35 dismissed the petition filed on April 4 regarding the commission’s issuance of a cease and desist order (CDO) against KAPA for its unauthorized selling and offering of securities.
“Accordingly, the motion is hereby denied and this case is hereby ordered dismissed,” Presiding Judge Oscar P. Noel, Jr. wrote in his ruling last June 17.
The GenSan court earlier issued a writ of preliminary injunction against the SEC, dated April 10, allowing KAPA to operate without the commission’s authority.
The SEC contested this, citing Section 179 of the Revised Corporation Code.
“No court below the Court of Appeals shall have jurisdiction to issue restraining order, preliminary injunction, or preliminary mandatory injunction in any case, dispute, or controversy that directly or indirectly interferes with the exercise of powers, duties and responsibilities of the Commission that falls exclusively within its jurisdiction,” states the relevant provision in the code.
The petition for injunction was dismissed alongside the resolution of the motion for issuance of a show cause order KAPA filed against the SEC, after the latter revoked its incorporation papers on April 3.
The SEC has since ramped up efforts to stop KAPA from further soliciting investments from the public.
It obtained on June 4 a freeze order from the Court of Appeals, through the Anti-Money Laundering Council, to preserve all assets linked to KAPA.
The commission then filed a criminal complaint against the supposed religious group, as well as its operators and promoters, before the Department of Justice (DoJ) for violations of Republic Act No. 8799, or the Securities Regulation Code (SRC).
The DoJ is now conducting a preliminary investigation on KAPA.
At the same time, a Regional Trial Court of Davao has also issued a hold departure order against the operators and promoters of the ministry.
As of July 8, three aggrieved investors, alongside the National Bureau of Investigation, have already filed a complaint against KAPA before the DoJ for syndicated estafa.
KAPA, led by its president, Joel A. Apolinario, has been enticing the public to invest amounts of P10,000 to P2 million supposedly as “donations,” in exchange for a 30% monthly return dubbed as “blessings” or “love gifts” for life.
With claims of having five million members, the SEC said the group may have collected at least P50 billion from the public.
These fraudulent practices are prohibited under the SRC, and violators could face up to P5 million in penalties or imprisonment of seven to 21 years. — Arra B. Francia