Impeachment and looming bank runs: Is economic plunder the real agenda of the Second Aquino Administration?

Looks like the venerable Philippine Savings Bank (PS Bank) is the next hapless chump thrust into the circus spotlight. In the usual tradition of the way the prosecution habitually pre-empts any court order to authorise any of its police activities, an “envelope” delivered by a shadowy “small lady” allegedly containing Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona’s specimen and signature cards has emerged as a key pillar in the prosecution’s request to subpoena Corona’s bank records. In the course of being pressed by Senator-Judge Francis “Chiz” Escudero on the nature of the “anonymous” source of his allegations, flustered former lead prosecutor Niel Tupas Jr was left with no choice but to hang Oriental Mindoro Rep. Rey Umali out to dry.

The serpent made me do it!

Umali, looking like the proverbial unprepared clown shoved in front of a stage facing an audience-packed theatre then reportedly “admitted that a ‘small lady’ handed him a brown envelope not knowing that it contained bank documents”. Umali went on to assert that his main role in this rather dodgy deal was to simply hand over this envelope to his colleagues in the prosecution team to decide on how best to use it in their case.

The trial is certainly going biblical with Tupas doing an Eve and Umali doing a Pontius Pilate!

Who is the biggest loser here? Who else but the little fall gal. The “small lady”, if identified, could face serious charges for violation of bank secrecy laws.

“I raised this [sic] concerns because whoever handed that document violated the bank deposit law. May I inquire who is this anonymous source?” Escudero said.

House lead prosecutor Niel Tupas claimed that it was congressman Umali who handed to him the envelope containing Corona’s customer identification and specimen signature card with Philippine Saving Bank.

Umali admitted that it was him who gave the envelope to Tupas in one of the hotel along Roxas Blvd. on Thursday night last week.

“I couldn’t recall who handed to me the envelope. I could recall a small lady but I couldn’t recall who the lady was,” Umali said.

Senator-Judge Vicente “Tito” Sotto III suggested a review of recordings from closed circuit television cameras to determine who Small Lady is following Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s ominous reminder to everyone that “no one — not anyone from the legislature, judiciary, or the executive — is exempt from sanctions for violating the law.”

Undaunted, and apparently condoning what could be a serious criminal violation of the Philippines’ bank secrecy laws, prosecution spokesman Rep. Romero Quimbo said in a briefing of the press that “it would be a ‘disservice’ to the country if they do not show the specimen and other bank account details.”

In the impeachment trial of President Joseph “Erap” Estrada in 2001, a small bank run was preciptated after a bank executive testified in the trial and voluntarily provided bank records outside the umbrella of a proper court order. Quite coincidentally (or maybe not), it was lawyer Mario Bautista who presented what at the time was star witness Clarissa Ocampo, an executive at the Equitable Bank Corporation, who testified against Estrada. Quite ironic that Bautista who now heads the private legal team provided by media network ABS-CBN to assist the prosecution was once commended by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo back in 2004…

“He helped turn the tide of history as private prosecutor when he presented Clarissa Ocampo as the key witness in the trial of the century [i.e. the trial of the impeachment of former President Estrada]. Congratulations to you, Mario, thanks for your contribution,” Arroyo said in a speech during the 2004 homecoming dinner of the University of the Philippines Class of 1979.

Not surprisingly, the business community in the Philippines — already reeling from dismal economic progress in an economy suffering from a chronic crisis of confidence — is up in arms over the prospect of another blow to their already dim prospects for the year…

An official of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce, who requested anonymity, said granting the subpoena could result in a bank run similar to the one that hit Equitable PCIBank during the 2001 impeachment trial of President Joseph Estrada, who was eventually found guilty of plunder.

“The members of the chamber are afraid that it might trigger a bank run, just like what happened … when Equitable PCIBank suffered massive withdrawals,” the businessman told the Manila Standard.

Granting the House prosecutors’ motion to subpoena documents on Corona’s accounts despite the Bank Secrecy Law would set a bad precedent and hurt the economy, the official said.

Already there is much accounting going on in the public over how much damage is being sustained by Philippine society at large as this impeachment trial drags on. Specifically, the scorched-earth bombardment and fine-meshed dragnet fishing approaches being employed by a desperate prosecution team working with a sloppily-written set of Articles of Impeachment is exacting a toll on the state, the effects of which may take several years to reveal themselves.

The vanity and vindictiveness of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and the possible links of this resolve to stop at nothing to take control of the Supreme Court to the fate of the vast Hacienda Luisita estate of the Cojuangco clan provides a compelling context in terms of what is at stake in this circus. A key question is now emerging as the astounding scale of this vendetta comes to light:

Is the crusade to oust Corona and its now very evident ties to the quest to save Hacienda Luisita shaping a new form of plunder of the country being mounted by the Second Aquino Administration?

Abangan ang susunod na kabanata…

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29 Comments on “Impeachment and looming bank runs: Is economic plunder the real agenda of the Second Aquino Administration?”

  1. Very interesting… an informant hands over crucial evidence that could be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back and the only description is that the person is a “small lady”??? Wow it’s a good thing I do not work for PS bank because I could very pass for the small lady in question!

    A Bank is a trusted intermediary. What the bank sells is trust.

    When bank employees are seen conniving with anyone to give confidential information there will be potential loss of trust…and can lead to this. It is true that this confidential information can also be used for kidnapping and extortion. Because of the leaked bank statement to the prosecution…people are getting angry.

    I guess what has not sank in to the prosecution panel is that while we want to know the truth…it does not mean we have given them the license to subvert our rights guaranteed under the bill or rights in the constitution. When will learn that to correct a wrong with another wrong does not make it right?

    1. This is an ominous sign will affect our banking system not just nationally, but internationally as well. Who would invest in our country knowing that the government itself can turn-off banking privacy laws with a snap of their fingers? It does not bode well for our economy in the long run.

      But then again does the King in Yellow even has an economic plan?

    2. It is very clear that monetary consideration was able to buy the day for the prosecution. The small lady is just a distraction to cover the identity of the person who transmitted the bank documents. As this is a violation of the law… it should not be admitted as evidence.

  2. The prosecution are providing evidence to the senate knowing the document with Corona’s signature specimen was illegally obtained. Alam ba nila ang rule of evidence? Bakit naman tinanggap ng senate ang illegally obtained document?

  3. our country is led by a fool, a senate who is interested in just keeping up with appearances, a house of representatives who are actually a pack of clowns.

    the remedy: DO NOT VOTE LIBERAL come 2013.

  4. “[It] would be a ‘disservice’ to the country if they do not show the specimen and other bank account details.”–Rep. Romero Quimbo, prosecution spokesman

    This is one great statement from the prosecution spokesman that we should all welcome, the defense in particular, for it would indeed be a “disservice” to the Republic if “the specimen and other bank details” of only ONE Member of the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice, are disclosed selectively to the public to verify “a declaration under oath of his assets, liabilities and net worth.”

    And this is precisely the intent the Framers conveyed in Sec 17, Art. XI:

    “A public officer or employee shall, upon assumption of office and as often thereafter as may be required by law, submit a declaration under oath of his assets, liabilities, and net worth. In the case of the President, the Vice-President, the Members of the Cabinet, the Congress, the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Commissions and other constitutional offices, and officers of the armed forces with general or flag rank, the declaration shall be disclosed to the public in the manner provided by law.”

    Hence, in line with his laudable advocacy, Rep. Quimbo–a “public officer, a Member of Congress, at that–should now urge his fellow accusers (Rep. Tupas. in particular) to come with clean hands and voluntarily present to the public they are sworn to serve original copies (if need be) of their bank documents and other financial statements supporting their SALN declarations.

    Otherwise, and to quote Rep. Quimbo again,“it would be a disservice to the country”–a “disservice” if only ONE among ALL “public officers” is subjected to the glare of such public scrutiny.

    1. This impeachment trial and the tactics of the prosecution can potentially disrupt a kind of détente amongst Filipino politicians that was underpinned by a tacit acknowledgement that any attempt to dig up dirt on the other will simply raise the spectre of a “hidden wealth armageddon” wherein the ensuing tit-for-tat unearthing of one another’s treasure chests and skeletons-in-closets will assure the destruction of the veil that cloaks their collective parasitical hold on Philippine society.

      1. Exacly. Now Neil Tupas have to explain to the public how he purchased a 14M pesos house and lot in Xavierville Subdivision with a P25,000 monthly salary. Not doing so would be a “disservice” to the Filipino people.

      2. BenignO, I’m more interested in the term “trust,” which–like loyalty, hate or love–is a feeling, an emotion, difficult to measure, quantify or even define with certainty; and this means that the definition of the impeachable offense of “betrayal of public trust” is simply how at least one-third of the incumbent Members of the House of Representatives construe the term to mean and two-thirds of the Senate concur to convict.

        Hence, in the absence of a definitive meaning–and, more importantly, since the accusers are the officers solely empowered under the Constitution to define what the term “betrayal of public trust” connotes–I think the only fair, reasonable and conclusive way to determine what constitutes “betrayal of public trust” (at least insofar as CJ Corona’s SALN is concerned) is by COMPARISON–by comparing the manner in which the SALNs of the accused were accomplished with the SALNs the accusers (Rep. Tupas, in particular) submitted (together, of course, with the accompanying bank and related financial documents verifying the consistency and truthfulness of the SALNS both contending parties submitted).

        This way, Pandora, and not just the “shadowy small lady,” would reveal–from the very SALNs of officers authorized to define the term “betrayal of public trust”–what,after all, are to be included or excluded in the SALN of public officers.

      3. @Domingo Arong: Indeed. Trust is the key component of the social capital deficit that saps Philippine society of the substance and conviction needed to do things properly and aspire to greatness. Even as these honourable statesmen debate its defiition, the broader swath of Philippine society fail to grasp even its most fundamental underpinnings.

        As you said, given the moral quandary the court faces having potentially found itself in a situation where ill-gotten evidence had made its way into the proceedings, the only recourse is to OPEN the Pandora’s box and subject ALL to scrutiny under the same terms — which is to institutionalise the proverbial “small lady” in the way we investigate graft and corruption amongst Filipino politicians.

    1. The fact is, come election day, these Liberal Party members and Pnoy-clingers will be members of another political party, one which is more powerful and popular by that time. These people are balimbings!

    1. And for the sake of some hacienda. Though you have to them some credit for their dedication to oust Corona, it may be a hacienda but it’s not just any hacienda so their zeal is quite justified.

      Of course it goes without saying that the common people are paying for such determination and zeal.

  5. “admitted that a ‘small lady’ handed him a brown envelope. . .

    Ahaha! Truly a gem!

    Next time around, they will call the white lady to testify on ‘ghost’ accounts. 🙂

    1. BSP caused the bank runs of Banco Filipino by making rumors of its insolvency. Either the Aquino government has something against Banco Filipino stakeholders, or BSP has very lousy financial analysts. Abnoy keeps insisting that it is mismanaged, can Abnoy explain how it was mismanaged? is it over leveraged? does he even know anything about banking, accounting or financial statement analysis? If it was insolvent then why didn’t they just allow the bank to go through chapter 11 and allow the PDIC pick up the depositors claims. Or a better solution, lend BF money through the reserves as to prevent bank runs-fulfilling the actual role of a central bank.

      Can someone figure out what Abnoy’s vendetta is with Banco Filipino? it seems like he has some issue against the stakeholders of this bank.

  6. “The small lady gave it to me”. Right, how conveniently vague can Umali get and I don’t believe it.

    If you ask me it’s another scheme by the prosecution’s trial-by-media tactic. Piece of advice, be careful your cunning does get out of hand…..

    1. when lawyers lie so blatantly in court then the problem is systemic.
      when people get handed a ‘plain brown envelope’
      they are anxious – letter bomb ,- curious – kinky photos -, hopeful – ‘1000 peso bills’ but to conveniently know nothing insults the intelligence.
      such unethical behaviour should lead to disbarment but its all par for the course, hence 3rd world status. no integrity or honesty top to bottom

  7. This just in…malacanang just made a press statement questioning the pro bono practice of cj defense lawyers…ano na naman kababawan to?! Utang na loob noy! nilindol na at nililindol pa ang visayas & mindanao, kung yun na lang kaya ang asikasuhin mo!

  8. By this time, PSBank would be going through its compliance procedures and seeking out the last person to touch (view) the account. That is, of course, if the bank has any compliance procedures, and they had any sense of urgency.

    I pity PSBank, but if they had any due diligence procedures, they’d have at least suspended the bank employee by now. I’d pull my money out of PSBank now before it’s too late.

    Glad I put my money elsewhere. But there are retards out there who would say that bank secrecy is nothing when stood against to the “will of the people”. A prosperous society is built on respect for privacy, private property, and the right to profit from honest work. A reliable part of that derives from bank secrecy laws. Leave it to dimwits like Reps Quimbo, Tupas, and Umali to throw that all away just so’s they could get a cut out of defending Hacienda Luisita.

    1. Goes to show how ruthless the Yellow cabal is, they’re willing to break, twist and distort the laws to satisfy their cravings. Money by itself is not evil, but the temptation to get more is real.

  9. In any Bill of Rights… “the accusse has the Right to meet and confront his/her acussers”…
    If an unknown “Small Lady”, whom you don’t even know ,or, what Planet , she may come from.Or, who she was; hands you an envelope, containing documents. Would you use it, as an evidence?
    How do you know, if the “documents”; she is handing to you, is authentic or fabricated? You don’t even know, where it came from, or who is handing you these papers…
    I have never seen such idiot lawyers in my life…I worked with our Corporate Lawyers…and they continue laughing at the impeachment…”too many clowns”, they said…”napapahiya na ako”, sa ginagawa ninyo…” I think, they may even be thinking : I may be as stupid as you all are…

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