Source: Journal Online
We don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
It’s not only more fun in the Philippines.
It’s also safer to keep your funds secret here than in Switzerland. Got that?
Yes, especially if it’s tainted cash.
So step right in, folks. We welcome mob money, narco-cash, jueteng proceeds, and other dividends of criminal activities.
Our financial system must be awash in dirty money.
But is it an honor for our banking institutions, our monetary enforcers, and our financial legislation?
Would the Transparency International give the country accolades or citation? Is an award forthcoming from the Bank for International Settlements?
“The world will now know that Philippine foreign currency deposit accounts provide a much better safe haven for ill-gotten wealth than Swiss bank accounts,” Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said.
But Carpio said the law guaranteeing the secrecy of foreign currency deposits should not turn the country into a haven for ill-gotten wealth.
He argued thus in his dissenting opinion on the SC’s issuance of a temporary restraining order on the opening of the dollar accounts of Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Carpio said the majority decision to issue the TRO is a mockery of all existing laws.
He said Republic Act 6426, the Foreign Currency Deposit Act, is intended to protect non-residents to encourage the inflow of foreign currency deposits in Philippine banks.
“What the majority has ruled is that government officials and employees have no obligation to disclose their foreign currency accounts, and that the public has no right to know such foreign currency accounts,” he said.
Carpio said government officials and employees can simply open foreign currency accounts and deposit money to avoid scrutiny.
Since Corona had already admitted that he owns the foreign currency accounts in Philippine Savings Bank, he now has the obligation to disclose these foreign currency deposits to the people, he added.
In a separate dissenting opinion, Associate Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno said PSBank should have not been entitled to the injunctive relief since its petition was based on “mere news report, exaggerated theories of a possible bank run, or stubborn fears of culpability”.
“Granting the prayer of petitioners for injunctive relief is tantamount to endorsing their position on absolute confidentiality, so much so that higher values, such as public accountability, cannot even be considered as a valid exception to the said privilege,” she said.
The court granted the prayer of PSBank and its president Pascual Garcia III, invoking the provision on absolute confidentiality of foreign currency deposits under the RA 6426, which bars any inquiry or examination as to the details of such foreign currency accounts.
The TRO would result in “an iniquitous situation, where the supreme interest of the public to maintain accountability among public officers is relegated to the sidelines in favor of a statutory privilege that arose purely out of economic considerations,” Sereno said.
Associate Justices Diosdado Peralta, Mariano del Castillo, and Estela Perlas-Bernabe concurred in this position.
Those who voted for the TRO were Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Arturo Brion, Lucas Bersamin, Roberto Abad, Martin Villarama Jr., Jose Mendoza, Jose Perez and Bienvenido Reyes.
Corona inhibited from the deliberations, being the subject of the case.