Duterte appoints new SEC chairman

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Emilio B. Aquino
Emilio B. Aquino is sworn in as new Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chairman in this photo the SEC sent to reporters via Viber.

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte has appointed Emilio B. Aquino as the new chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), replacing Teresita J. Herbosa whose seven-year term expired on March 15, the corporate regulator said in a statement on Wednesday.

Mr. Aquino has served as SEC commissioner since December 2016 and was Mr. Duterte’s first appointment to the corporate regulator’s leadership. He supervised SEC’s Enforcement, Human Resource and Administration department.

A statement issued by SEC Office of the Commission Secretary on Wednesday said that “as an SEC homegrown talent, he has a palpable feel of the needs of the Commission in furthering its aim to develop and regulate the corporate and capital market toward good corporate governance, protection of investors, widest participation of ownership and democratization of wealth.”

On its website, the SEC described Mr. Aquino as a “practicing CPA-lawyer in Western Mindanao” who taught commercial law subjects at the law schools of Ateneo del Zamboanga and Western Mindanao State University.

As commissioner, Mr. Aquino led the campaign against illegal lenders and is credited for having issued the most number of cease-and-desist orders against pyramiding and boiler-room operations of pseudo-investment firms.

In July 2017, Mr. Aquino led the crackdown on a total of 153 individuals, 67 of whom were Indian nationals, who were suspected of falsification, perjury and violations of the Lending Company Regulation Act. Under his lead, the SEC’s Enforcement and Investor Protection Department filed 18 criminal complaints at the City Prosecutor’s Office of Pasay City against the fake lending firms.

Since the crackdown, the SEC noted that there has been a 438% increase in the number of lending firms that registered with the commission during the first half of 2017 to 393 firms, from only 73 the year before.

Before being commissioner, Mr. Aquino worked for the SEC from 1993 to 2005 in various leadership positions. This included heading the SEC Davao Extension Office and the SEC Zamboanga Extension Office.

He then became director of the Prosecution and Enforcement Department, Non-Traditional Securities and Instruments Department, and Compliance and Enforcement Department at SEC Davao. Mr. Aquino oversaw capital market promotion activities and enforcement programs against investment scams in the area at this time.

Mr. Aquino graduated Magna Cum Laude and Valedictorian with a Bachelor of Science degree in Commerce major in Accounting at the Universidad de Zamboanga in 1984. He passed the Certified Public Accountant Licensure exam with a rating of 89.14%. He earned his law degree from the San Beda College, after which he placed 16th in the 1992 Bar Exams. Mr. Aquino obtained a Master’s Degree in Public Management at the Development Academy of the Philippines. After this, he also went to the University of Sydney in Australia for a course on Effective Governance.

Mr. Aquino’s appointment comes at a time the SEC is faced with the rising number of online investment scams as well as disruption brought about by technology, including the need to regulate initial coin offerings (ICOs). He said last January that the commission is already drafting guidelines for ICOs to ensure that the use of cryptocurrencies for fund-raising activities is properly regulated. — Arra B. Francia