current events

The Foreign Currency Deposits Law and the Impeachment Trial

PS Bank President Pascual Garcia III

The Senator-judges kept on repeating yesterday that the witness, PSBank president Garcia should DISOBEY the law on Foreign Currency Deposits “in the interest of Justice”.

First and foremost, to OBEY the Law IS in the Interest of Justice.
Congress makes the Laws and therefore, the Congress people (Representatives and Senators) must be the first ones to FOLLOW them.

Second, Laws or statutes must have certain characteristics like it must not contravene the fundamental law of the land- the Constitution. Also, the people – all the citizens and residents of the country, including the legislators and court officials — must have a clear understanding of a law’s (esp. a criminal law’s) requirements and prohibitions. The language of the law must be CLEAR, UNEQUIVOCAL and EASILY UNDERSTOOD.

One does NOT have to be a LAWYER to understand the law.

If a law cannot be easily understood, then it must be declared VOID for VAGUENESS.

We all have heard of the principle that IGNORANCE OF THE LAW EXEMPTS NO ONE. I have heard that since I was in grade school. And the meaning of that is NOT that the Law is so powerful and disobeying it will bring down the State’s police power upon a person. In Hart’s Concept of Law, he says that the INTERNAL aspect of the law must be dominant. J. R. Lucas says: “The crucial characteristic of law is that it is to a very large extent internalised. If I accept that something is the law, then I accept also that, in the absence of weighty countervailing considerations, I ought to do it.” In other words, laws should agree to COMMON SENSE and is the most natural thing to do.

Stealing or Killing is not allowed in most societies. People do not have to know which law or which provisions in the Penal Code says that murder or manslaughter or theft is a crime. It is COMMON SENSE that people should not kill or steal. That is the reason why “ignorance of the law exempts no one.” It means that laws are there to protect people who do what is natural in everyday course of events and protect them against UNNATURAL events occurring.

People put their money in banks thinking that their money will be safer in banks rather than under their pillows. (Interest deposits are so low as not to matter. They are lower than the inflation rate, which means that spending money now is more “productive” than saving it.). The depositors naturally believe that the banks through bank secrecy laws cannot be looked into by any investigative body on mere SUSPICION or REPORTS (as indicated in the Articles of Impeachment).

To attract foreign currency to remain in the country, the Foreign Currency Deposit Act was promulgated and implemented. This law states:

Section 8. Secrecy of foreign currency deposits. – All foreign currency deposits authorized under this Act, as amended by PD No. 1035, as well as foreign currency deposits authorized under PD No. 1034, are hereby declared as and considered of an absolutely confidential nature and, except upon the written permission of the depositor, in no instance shall foreign currency deposits be examined, inquired or looked into by any person, government official, bureau or office whether judicial or administrative or legislative, or any other entity whether public or private; Provided, however, That said foreign currency deposits shall be exempt from attachment, garnishment, or any other order or process of any court, legislative body, government agency or any administrative body whatsoever. (As amended by PD No. 1035, and further amended by PD No. 1246, prom. Nov. 21, 1977.)

The prosecutors and some senator-judges keep on insisting on the Salvacion case. In the Salvacion case, an American tourist kidnapped and RAPED several times a 12-year old girl, Karen Salvacion. It was an inhuman, heinous crime. Should the American, Greg Bartelli, be exempt from paying damages to the victim because his dollars are protected by law? Common sense would say, “No, absolutely not!”

There is also such a thing as Spirit of the Law. The spirit of the law is the INTENT of the law. When the FCDU Law was enacted, the country needed to attract dollars for investment and stop or minimize the flow of dollars outside the country. Mr. Bartelli was a mere TOURIST and was here only for a short stay with no intention of investing in business concerns. And with his conviction of a heinous crime, surely, the State would not want to have any business dealings with him. And so, for these reasons, the SC decided that the American rapist’s dollar deposits are not covered by the protection of the law.

What about Corona’s FCD accounts. First of all, the Articles of Impeachment merely alleges his non-disclosure of his SALN in a truthful, timely manner. And these allegations were based on “suspicions” and “reports”. Are his alleged dollar deposits absolutely necessary to prove their allegations? NO. The prosecution and some senator-judges have already subpoenaed hundreds of documents that would allegedly prove their allegations.

How about the spirit of the law? If the dollar deposits of Corona will be opened, then surely, one can expect the flight of HUGE amounts of dollars from this country – to be led by impeachable officials followed by elective officials and our top money-earning bureaucrats esp. from BIR, Customs, DPWH, etc..

And more importantly, foreign investors would shy away from the banking system. With the country having the highest electricity rates in Asia, with our generally corrupt bureaucracy, with regulations-laden bureaucratic red tape in doing business in the country, with a not-so-developed infrastructure, why in the world would foreigners want to invest their money in the Philippines?

Is it in the spirit of Justice? In Salvacion case, absolutely YES.

In the case of Corona, NO. The impeachment against Corona was done in haste – with allegations based on mere reports and suspicion. The accused was not even informed of the accusations and was not given the opportunity to be heard. His opportunity to do so came only at the start of the trial.

The rules of the Impeachment Court are even stacked against the respondent. The senator-judges can cross-examine the witnesses, ask for additional documents and witnesses to be subpoenaed. With the Impeachment court being described as POLITICAL, and with the majority of the senators aligned with the Power-that-be in the Philippines (the President of the Republic), the final decision could well be based on political party affiliations. The prosecution, no less than the House of Representatives, can avail themselves of the best possible private lawyers in the land.

And with the trial being political in nature, generally speaking, the Media and other state apparatuses are arrayed against the respondent.

If we are talking of being “in the spirit of Justice”, then the SALNs and the dollar accounts of  Corona’s Supreme Court justice rival Antonio Carpio or House Speaker Sonny Belmonte or even the Prosecution team leader’s (Cong. Tupas, Jr.’s) SALNs and ITRs and dollar bank accounts should be similarly scrutinized. That would be “in the Spirit of Justice”!

And just now, President Noynoy Aquino dared Chief Justice Corona to show his dollar accounts “if he has nothing to hide”. Really, being the President and instigator of the impeachment complaint, it behooves upon the good President to lead by example and let his SALN, ITRs (tax returns) and dollar bank account be opened and scrutinized…”in the spirit of justice”.

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MY FACEBOOK POST YESTERDAY -Feb 9, 2012 18 hours ago:

Why are the prosecutors (and some senator-judges) questioning the fact that Corona has a lot of money? Yet they don’t ask Carpio the same question? Carpio has more money (45 million pesos) stated in his SALN. And surely, he has much more NOT in the SALN.

Better yet, why don’t they ask SEN. DRILON how much money he has? Since Cory’s time, he has been with the government in whatever capacity. Surely, a government official’s salary, including that of the the President of the Philippines, could not make one a multi-millionaire considering that he has other expenses like children’s education, household expenses, vacation expenses, etc. I am quite sure that Drilon’s net worth today is about 1000 times more than his net worth in 1986, when he was still in private practice.

Carpio has also been with the government since Marcos time.

And really, as night follows day, ALL THE SENATORS AND CONGRESSMEN HAVE MUCH MUCH MORE MONEY IN BANKS AND ELSEWHERE NOT ACCOUNTED FOR IN THEIR SALNs.

This impeachment trial is nothing but hypocritical.

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FACEBOOK   FEB. 9, 2012 19  hours ago:

Alan Peter Cayetano thought that he can legally twist around his finger the PS Bank president. He asked the witness if he appreciates the Salvacion case. And it turned out that he knew very well the case. And in spite of Cayetano’s legal sophistry, PS Bank president Garcia correctly told the Court that it is specifically stated in the Salvacion case that the exception granted to that case was valid ONLY for that case and for NO OTHER cases. He also pointed out that there was already a CONVICTION by the court and that the defendant’s dollars would be used for garnishment (i.e., “a means of collecting a monetary judgment against a defendant by ordering a third party -the garnishee- to pay money, otherwise owed to the defendant, directly to the plaintiff.) He also mentioned that in the said case, the respondent was a foreigner who raped a little girl. And he correctly pointed out that he couldn’t see any similarity between the Salvacion case and the Impeachment trial.

Bravo Mr. Garcia! Palpal si Companero!

ADDITIONAL COMMENT: 17 hours ago:

I just saw at youtube, Peter’s sister Pia tried to help out her brother by asking the witness to re-read the entire SC decision on the case. Her premise is that the decision was based IN THE INTEREST OF JUSTICE and not really because of some special case.

But good ole Mr. Garcia simply reiterated his position that the Court had been definite in saying that their ruling was valid ONLY for that case and NO OTHER.

Pia still insisted that the Impeachment trial is a SPECIAL case and therefore should be also an exception to the rule.

But still no can do for Mr. Witness. Bravo Mr. Witness!

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FACEBOOK   Feb 8  12:05 am

Is this the one Justice Carpio released to the public? This is NOT a SALN. This is just a statement of the TOTAL Asset and Liabilities for 2010!!! These are just NUMBERS with no corresponding items like houses, shares of stocks, cash in banks, etc.

The media reports that Carpio released his SALN is UNTRUE if this is the only one he released.

"SALN" of Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio

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