General Santos court denies Kapa-Community’s TRO petition

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A GENERAL SANTOS City court has denied religious organization Kapa-Community Ministry International, Inc.’s petition for a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the investment advisories and cease and desist order (CDO) issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

In a decision posted on the SEC website Monday, Branch 58 of the General Santos City Regional Trial Court said it “cannot properly issue a 72-hour TRO to stop the implementation of an SEC Advisory and an SEC Cease and Desist Order” since the company can resolve the matter with the SEC itself.

The court explained that the parties involved may file a request to lift the order with the commission five days from their receipt of the order.

“(T)his court clearly sees that the present petition is not one wherein petitioner is appealing the SEC advisory or the CDO, it would appear that relief from the CDO issued by the SEC may be had with the SEC, and not with the Regional Trial Court,” according to the ruling.

The SEC had issued the CDO against Kapa-Community, its directors, offices, and representative Joel Apolinario last month, as it was found to be illegally soliciting investments from the public with the promise of 30% returns every month thereafter.

The commission also warned that the religious group has been operating under several names, such as Kapa Kabus Padatuon (Enrich the Poor), Kapa/ Kappa (Kabus Padatuon), Kapaco Convenience Store and General Merchandise, and Kapa Worldwide Ministry.

A report from the National Bureau of Investigation found that Kapa-Community has collected around P7 million from hundreds of investors at some point, most of whom were teachers in Bislig City, Surigao del Sur.

Prior to the release of the CDO, the SEC had already warned the public via an Oct. 3, 2018 advisory to stop investing in Kapa-Community and to take the necessary precaution when dealing with the entity and its representatives.

For its part, Kapa-Community said the advisory and CDO violated its exercise of freedom of religion, which includes the right of the religious organization to “receive donations from its members so that it could propagate its religious mission to provide for and support the needs of the members, and continue with its charitable activities.” — Arra B. Francia