FORMER Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Perfecto Yasay on Saturday attributed the failure of some 500,000 pre-need plan policy holders from collecting maturing contracts to Liberal Party standard bearer Manuel Roxas II, whom he accused of “killing” the P27-billion pre-need industry.
At the Kapihan sa Annabel’s forum, Yasay said Roxas was behind the collapse of the pre-need industry because he lobbied strongly for the revival of American-owned AIG, or the American International Group Inc., a life insurance company.
“The P27-billion pre-need industry was the direct competitor of the lackadaisical P5-billion life insurance industry. Mar Roxas, who was then an official of AIG, wanted life insurance to be resuscitated and the only way to do that was to kill the pre-need industry, in which he succeeded being then the secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry, which had nothing to do and had no jurisdiction over SEC. Roxas did it while I was suspended as SEC chairman,” Yasay told the forum.
Yasay said he was compelled to come out in the open to prevent the “hypocrite” Roxas from ascending to the presidency by claiming he was fighting for the poor.
He said Roxas “lied” when he projected during the presidential debate that he was able to fight for pre-need policy holders when he was senator.
“That’s a lie. He was responsible for the killing of the pre-need industry and the impact of his abuse and misuse of powers when he was DTI secretary years ago is now felt by some 500,000 policy holders, who could no longer collect the money they had invested that was meant to send their children to college,” Yasay said.
In 1998, Yasay said Roxas, along with then US Ambassador Jose Cuisia, lobbied for the AIG’s entry to the Philippines.
“I was the stumbling block to Roxas’ vested interests at the time and so he had me suspended so that he could push for the entry of the AIG but at the expense of the pre-need industry,” Yasay said.
He said he was puzzled when the SEC consultant, the USAID had come out with a study that recommended the prioritization of the life insurance business to the detriment of the pre-need industry.
“Roxas thought I would be dismissed from the SEC. I fought them from the Ombudsman to the Court of Appeals, all the way to the Supreme Court and I won. I reacquired my post and I asked for an investigation,” Yasay recounted.
“The probe showed the USAID study and recommendation was supposedly ordered by me. No. I was under suspension at the time. Further probe showed it was Roxas that ordered the study and that the results should favor the resuscitation of the life insurance industry and the closure of the pre-need business,” Yasay explained.
He said Cuisia, who was the chief of AIG Philippines for Asia at the time, and Roxas wanted the money invested in Asia, particularly in Japan.
“I opposed that. I said it was wrong. It cannot be done. It is unlawful to collect the money from Filipinos and bring it abroad. I said the money should stay in the Philippines and be invested in blue-chip companies. I stood in their way,” Yasay said.
Yasay said his suspension lasted for a year and that when he came back, Roxas’ alleged influence-peddling over policies already took effect and thus became “irreversible.”
“Filipinos invested in the pre-need plans when their children were just five years old and they were hoping that after 15 years, they would be able to collect their investment to send their children to school. Filipinos even sell their carabaos just so to allow their children to attend school. What did Roxas do? He killed the pre-need industry and now the parents could no longer collect their investments. The pre-need industry is dead. Roxas killed it,” Yasay said.
Told that Roxas fought the “fly-by-night” pre-need firms, Yasay said that was one of the lies being perpetuated by Roxas.
“Yes, there were fly-by-night pre-need firms but his vested interest of protecting the AIG made him kill the entire P27-billion industry, including the legitimate and big pre-need firms. Had he not done that, these pre-need firms were able to make the money grow and there was no problem for these 500,000 policy holders of collecting their money back,” Yasay said.
Yasay said he tried to save the pre-need industry by recommending that these firms be regulated.
“I could not do anything anymore. The damage has been done. The pre-need industry was already dead. They would no longer listen to me. Roxas, when he became senator, pretended to be fighting for the pre-need policy holders. The truth was, he was protecting the interests of the life insurance firms,” Yasay said. “Roxas is a fraud. People should not vote for him.”