The online news portal of TV5
MANILA, Philippines- Is there any law barring a public official from disclosing his dollar accounts in his statement of assets liabilities and networth (SALN)?
Apparently none, according to Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile when he quizzed both defense and prosecution teams regarding the disclosure of foreign currency deposits, which Chief Justice Renato Corona did not include in his SALN.
"There is no monetary secrecy law that prohibits or inhibits the depositor from revealing his own deposit," Enrile said. "What is prohibited is the third party to reveal it... the depositor is not."
The Senate president's position is contrary to that of Corona who earlier said that Republic Act 6426 or the Act Constituting a Foreign Currency Deposit System in the Philippines guarantees absolute confidentiality of deposits in foreign currencies.
Enrile also asked lead defense lawyer Serafin Cuevas if there was any harm to any public official if such dollar accounts were declared. Cuevas said harm is always present especially in these troubling times.
"The probability of kidnapping, extortion may come into the picture," Cuevas said. "There is no assurance that one may be immune to those."
Enrile then quoted the Constitution, which stated that a public official upon assumption of office must " submit a declaration under oath of his assets liabilities and net worth."
"Do you consider that a command of the people or was it something that can be disregarded?" The senate leader asked Cuevas.
Cuevas said that it can't be disregarded but that there are other laws that arise, which also protect an individual's right to that law.
For House Speaker Sonny Belmonte, who became the prosecution's 'surprise' third speaker during the closing arguments, the non-disclosure of assets, especially of foreign deposits, cannot be a mere "lapse in judgement."
"Hindi mistake of judgment 'yan, that’s your call. Tinago mo talaga all the way [That's not a mistake in judgement, that's your call. You concealed it all the way]," he said.