Opinion: Impeachment Court Upholds TRO on Dollar Deposits
The Senate Impeachment Court yesterday decided to respect the Supreme Court ruling upholding the law against opening of dollar deposits in banks except with the concurrence of the deposit or himself.
It simply shows that the senator-judges decided to uphold the law rather than acquiesce to the superiority of the high tribunal insofar as the interpretation of the law is concerned.
In short, the tribunal members also saw that there was no way out of the stringent provisions of the law against disclosure of the bank account on dollar deposits.
Senator Judge Miriam Defensor-Santiago observed that there may be a need to amend the law since the intent of the dollar deposit law simply protects foreign investors from being unduly harassed by the government.
It was common knowledge that an adverse position taken by the Senate could have precipitated a bank run. Which means that foreign depositors may close their local deposits and transfer to other countries where the bank secrecy act remains inviolate, such as Singapore and Switzerland.
Santiago also recognized the possibility that crooked officials and criminal elements may take advantage of the stringent rules on opening of dollar deposits and use it to hide their ill-gotten wealth in foreign currency deposits.
While Rep. Niel Tupas (Iloilo) said that the House contemplates such an amendment, there was the problem it could not be used to get into the deposits of Chief Justice Renato Corona.
It was apparent that most of the senator-judges are in favor of upholding the High Court TRO on the issue because precisely of fear of a bank run that could ruin the national economy.
But most of them also recalled that Corona, himself, had assured that he will disclose in due time his dollar deposits.
Surprisingly, there was no more question as to who was the source of who revealed the deposit of the Corona dollar account which Tupas claimed had been handed over to a member of the prosecution panel by a “short lady.”
But there was no explanation as to whether the prosecution panel had gone out of its way to verify the authenticity of the so-called documents before they started to reveal it in a press conference.
That, per se, violates the rule of the tribunal that evidence which had not been admitted by the Senate impeachment court could not be revealed publicly until accepted as evidence and subjected to scrutiny by the court on the testimonies of witnesses.
Incidentally, that seems to have been a standard violation of the prosecution which elicited from a member of the court that the proceedings were faster outside the court than what was going on in the tribunal.
In short, as earlier pointed out, evidence which had not been accepted yet by the court found itself bared before the public as already what they are adduced to be.
Well, that seems to be the standard gimmick of the prosecution. Neither was the defense panel exempt from staging a similar tactic as when it claimed that members of the Senate had been offered P100-million in pork barrel funds by the Palace.
Oh, well, it seems that both sides have been underhanded games. But the point is that, we just could wait for the final voting by the senator-judges.*