Impeachment court grants request to subpoena bank execs, Corona bank accountsLira Dalangin-Fernandez, InterAksyon.com
The impeachment court trying Chief Justice Renato Corona has granted, “but sets specific limits to the same,” the request of prosecutors to subpoena bank executives and records on accounts of the accused and members of his family.
Emerging from a closed-door caucus on Day 12 of the trial, the court presiding officer, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, said the senator-judges deliberated on the prosecution motion, and majority voted to grant the request under certain restrictions. He directed Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III to read aloud the court resolution on the matter.
Justice Serafin Cuevas served notice the defense will file a motion for reconsideration on the court’s ruling, noting more recent jurisprudence on the matter.
In a decision read by Sotto, it said the majority of senator-judges voted to grant the request of the prosecution and ordered the managers of the Bank of the Philippine Island (Ayala Avenue, Makati branch) and the PSBank (Katipunan, Quezon City branch) “to testify and bring or produce before the court documents on the alleged bank accounts onylf or the sole purpose of the impeachment proceedings” at 2 p.m. on Feb. 8.
“The court would like to emphasize that the non-disclosure of the information relating to the bank accounts of the individual is still the general rule and it has no intention of going against public policy,” Sotto said.
Senator-judges are treading with caution on the matter of bank records, taking a leaf from the impeachment trial of then President Joseph Estrada in January 2001. A bank run followed the testimony of a bank executive and disclosure of records of Estrada in Equitable Bank Corp. Later, Estrada sued Citibank for volunteering to disclose, even without a subpoena, his foreign account deposits with that bank.
The Filipino-Chinese chamber of commerce had warned that a bank run may ensue if the bank secrecy is breached anew in Corona’s case.
Earlier on Monday, prosecution and defense in the Corona trial laid down anew their positions on the granting, or rejection, of the bid to open the bank records of the chief justice and members of his family.
The prosecutors wanted to prove that Corona had not disclosed all his wealth in his Statement of Assets Liabilities and Net worth (SALNs) as required by law.
But defense lawyers filed an urgent motion to oppose issuance of subpoenas, deeming the exercise an “unlawful search” because the prosecutors only stated bank account numbers and names, without specifying the transactions — using these accounts — that were allegedly illegal or anomalous.