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MANILA, Philippines – It’s not a conspiracy. It’s our duty.
An official of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) denied claims of Chief Justice Renato Corona’s lawyers that President Benigno Aquino III is using government agencies to ensure his removal.
Lawyer Emmanuel Dooc, commissioner of the Insurance Commission, said the Aquino administration did not use the AMLC to pin down Corona.
Dooc is a member of the AMLC, which is chaired by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. He granted an interview during a Senate hearing break on Friday, May 18.
The commissioner stressed, “I will not allow myself to be used as a political tool to promote the interest of anyone. All the other members of the council will never allow such thing to happen. We’re all professionals and I don’t think anyone can assail the integrity of the members of the council.”
The defense panel accused Aquino of orchestrating a plot to malign Corona, allegedly using agencies like the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the Commission on Audit and the Land Registration Authority.
It was AMLC that provided a report on Corona’s bank transactions to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales. Based on the data, Morales testified that Corona has 82 dollar accounts in 5 banks, and $12 million in fresh deposits or money that did not move in his bank accounts.
Dooc said Aquino had no hand in the submission of the report to Morales.
“You can rely on the presumption of regularity [in] the performance of our duty,” said Dooc.
AMLC report authentic
Dooc also vouched for the authenticity of the report that the AMLC gave Morales. His statement directly contradicts the pronouncement of the defense panel that the AMLC had denied issuing the report. (Read: Cuevas to Morales: What AMLC report?)
“They should have subpoenaed us so we could have established the authenticity,” said Dooc. The Senate will deliberate on this during its caucus on Monday.
Dooc also responded to criticism that the AMLC did not follow legal procedures when it gave Morales data on Corona’s bank records.
Some senators and the defense panel said the AMLC should have first conducted a fact-finding probe, and secured a court order before turning over the data to the Ombudsman.
Dooc said the Anti-Money Laundering Act mandates banks to regularly submit to the AMLC information on “covered and suspicious” transactions. He said this was how the agency got hold of information on Corona’s bank transactions.
The commissioner added that AMLC members were unanimous in deciding to submit the data to Morales.
Osmeña’s warning to Corona
For Sen Sergio “Serge” Osmeña III, Corona should stop questioning the authenticity of the AMLC report and instead open his bank accounts.
After 39 days, Corona will testify in his own trial on Tuesday, May 22.
Osmeña, an Aquino ally, said Corona should not hide under bank secrecy laws.
“It would be very bad for him if he says, ‘You cannot ask for my bank accounts because that’s protected by law.’ That’s the worst admission he can make.”
The senator added, “The best evidence is the bank document itself. No amount of explanation can be better than that.”
Osmeña also advised Corona to sign a waiver on his bank records but admitted that the Senate cannot force the Chief Justice to do so.
He said Corona must be able to rebut Morales’ testimony on his alleged 82 dollar accounts and explain why he did not declare these.
Osmeña added that the chief magistrate must address allegations he used his influence to favor his wife in the family dispute over the Basa-Guidote Enterprises Inc.
With the long-drawn trial reaching its conclusion, Osmeña said a simple question will determine Corona’s fate.
“In the totality of things, does this man deserve my trust? Am I comfortable with him continuing with the supreme position of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of this country?” – Rappler.com