We write in connection with the reply of the media relations officer of the Insurance Commission seeking to “clarify matters” in relation to the issues raised in the article of Ms. Mary Ann Reyes which was published in the Sept. 14 issue of The Philippine STAR.
It is not correct for the Insurance Commission to say that because the civil complaint to recover insurance proceeds for material damage due to fire and business interruption losses provided under the insurance policy issued by the insurers of Steel Corp. of the Philippines (SCP), “(t)here is no way for the Insurance Commission to assume jurisdiction and hear the cases because the claims exceed the jurisdiction amount of P5 million provided under Section 439 of the Insurance Code as amended by RA 10607 which took effect on Sept. 20, 2013.” What is correct is that, as admitted by the reply, “what is pending before the Insurance Commission are administrative cases seeking the suspension and revocation of licenses of the insurance companies who issued the insurance policies involved in the incident. These cases do not seek to recover insurance proceeds for material damage due to fire and business interruption losses provided under the insurance policies.” Indeed, administrative cases filed with the Insurance Commission for its commissioner to exercise his regulatory authority to determine whether or not an insurer has violated certain provision of the Insurance Code are not affected by the filing by the insured of civil complaints with the regular courts for recovery of insurance proceeds for the losses sustained by the insured under the covering insurance policies. As well said by the Supreme Court in Almendras Mining Corp.vs. Office of the Insurance Commission *160 SCRA 656).
“Petitioner Almendras in effect invoked only the commissioner’s regulatory authority to determine whether or not private respondent bankers has violated provisions of the Insurance Code, as amended. Petitioner has chosen to litigate the substantive aspects of its insurance claim against bankers in a different forum – a judicial one – for it instituted a separate civil action for damages before the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City, on Aug. 13, 1985, that is, after efforts at amicable settlement of Administrative Case No. 006 had failed. Petitioner Almendras had a fact to go before a judicial forum and to limit the proceedings before the insurance commissioner to regulatory, non-judicial, matters; the claim of petitioner Almendras was in excess of P100,000.00 and, therefore, fee outside the quasi-judicial jurisdiction of the insurance commissioner under Section 416 of the Insurance Code, as amended.”
The Insurance Commission may not seek to justify its failure to act seasonably on the administrative complaint of SCP by saying that “even before the occurrence of the two fires and the eventual filing of administrative and civil cases, SCP’s operation had been in peril due to its dire financial situation” as shown by the fact that SCP has been under corporate rehabilitation.” The performance by the Insurance Commission of its duties under the Insurance Code is not dependent on the financial needs of the insured, but rather on its fidelity of seeing to it that all laws relating to insurance and insurance companies are faithfully complied with for the proper protection of the insuring public. (Section 437, Insurance Code).
Finally, the Insurance commissioner may not validated the lateness of his actuations on SCP’s complaint by saying it had already rendered a decision but which has been sought to be reconsidered. It had taken him more than a year to be able to render a decision within approximately two weeks from service upon him of the petition for mandamus (service was made on July 29 and the decision was rendered on Aug. 19 speaks well of the unseemly haste (Re: Letter of Presiding Justice Conrado M. Vasquez, Jr. on CA-G.R.103692 (564 SCRA 365) of the commissioner to forestall and/or render moot what the Court of Appeals would do on SCP’s petition, an act not looked upon with favour by the courts (Manzon, et al. vs Cruz, etc., et al., 45 SCRA 475) which “constituted disrespect and disregard of the authority and jurisdiction of the court.” The commissioner should have waited for the Court of Appeals to act on the petition for mandamus before issuing his decision. (Berns, et al. vs. Nuevo et al (127 SCRA 399).
Very truly yours,
Business ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
BALGOS GUMARU FALLER TAN & JAVIER
Counsel for Steel Corporation of the Philippines
By: MARCIAL O. TI. BALGOS
VINCENT P. HIÑOLA