SC stops release of CJ’s dollar accounts

Rappler.com
PSBank obtains TRO from SC

[UPDATED] MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court, voting 8-5, issued a Temporary Restraining Order on the impeachment court’s subpoena covering the bank documents of Chief Justice Renato Corona in Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank).

As such, PSBank was prohibited from further testifying and presenting documents before the impeachment court. The TRO was issued while PSBank president Pascual Garcia III was being grilled by senator-judges on Day 15 of the impeachment trial.

The 8 justices who voted in favor of PSBank’s request for a TRO are: Justices Teresita de Castro, Arturo Brion, Lucas Bersamin, Martin Villarama, Jose Mendoza, Bienvenido Reyes, Roberto Abad, and Jose Perez.

Seven of them are appointees of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. One is an appointee of President Benigno Aquino III: Reyes.

The 5 who voted against the TRO are Justices Antonio Carpio, Maria Lourdes Sereno, Diosdado Peralta, Estela Perlas Bernabe, and Mariano del Castillo. Of the 5, two are appointees of President Aquino: Sereno and Bernabe. 

On the other hand, Del Castillo is the subject of a current impeachment proceeding at the House of Representatives. He has said he plans to take a leave of absence reportedly to undergo heart surgery.

Two justices inhibited from the case: Corona himself, and Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr, whose son, Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, signed the impeachment complaint against the Chief Justice.

Urged to comply

In a press conference, SC spokesperson and court administrator Midas Marquez addressed concerns about how the TRO will affect the impeachment proceedings. 
 
“The court has already issued a TRO. We hope that all those concerned will comply with the TRO issued by the Supreme Court,” Marquez said.

On Wednesday, February 8, PSBank’s Garcia testified that Corona, as of December 2010, had nearly P20-M in his 2 accounts in the bank. This is contrary to Corona’s sworn declaration in his 2010 Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth that he had P3.5-M in “cash and investments.”

PSBank sought a TRO on grounds that releasing information about the dollar bank accounts of Corona would violate stringent laws on the confidentiality of foreign currency deposits.

Not covered by the TRO issued by the Supreme Court is the Bank of the Philippine Islands, which was summoned by the impeachment court, and whose officials were scheduled to testify also on Thursday.

In his separate petition for a TRO, Corona asked the Court to issue a TRO not only on the subpoena covering PSBank but also BPI. The High Tribunal, however, has deferred action on Corona’s petition. – Rappler.com

Erratum: We had erroneously listed “Diosdado Macapagal” as among the 5 justices who voted against the TRO. We corrected this to “Diosdado Peralta.” We regret the error.