AMLC – the new Philippine Constabulary: Impeachment Senator-Judges beware!

It’s the second day of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales’s “testimony” in the impeachment trial of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona. Bottom line still is the fact that no beginning cash balance to serve as a baseline to give meaning to the cash flows presented by Morales could be produced. Without a beginning balance, there is no basis at all for proving or disproving claims made by both Morales and various “civil society” personalities including former Akbayan party list representative Risa Hontiveros and some other guy that Corona maintained dollar account balances of anywhere from USD10 million to USD12 million (even the claims vary depending on which of these characters you ask). No ending balance could be calculated and no average balance over the 2003 through 2011 period covered by the Anti Money Laundering Council (AMLC) “report” could be ascertained.

A point more important to the Senators emerged, however. And it is that the sums moved to and from up to 82 accounts across several banks over that period were enormous sums — which raised the question of why the AMLC had not acted on the information it did possess. Then again did the AMLC come to possess the information that went into Morales’s report as a result of its routine monitoring? Or did the AMLC acquire it on the prompting of Morales’s office?

These questions are what set off a subsequent series of nervous grilling of Morales by the Senator Judges as the spectre of the AMLC as Malacañang’s on-call Gestapo — the new Philippine Constabulary, perhaps — descended upon the Senate floor. Is the AMLC investigation of the alleged Corona dollar accounts a once-off thing conducted at Malacañang’s behest? Can it be called upon to do the same thing in the future should any of the Senators, shall we say, displease Malacañang in the future?

As Senator Miriam Santiago pointed out during her manifestation — perhaps the manner with which the investigation was initiated by the Ombudsman and the information acquired and made available for public consumption was unlawful. The implications of this are serious. It starts with small things — small instances of circumvention of the Bill of Rights; means to justify a well-pitched end — that precipitate bigger and bigger violations of civil rights: unwarranted searches and arrests, illegal wiretapping, domestic spying… Where will it end?

It looks like the rest of the term of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III will be nothing more than a big purge — today the Supreme Court, tomorrow the Senate perhaps. Senators beware! Start running for the banks!

“Civil society” stalwart and staunch anti-Corona crusader Leah Navarro let loose what sounded like whopper of a Freudian slip in a tweet she issued tonight:

If a public official or citizen has nothing to hide, the possibility of an audit or probe should not be a concern.

An ironic assertion coming from a supposed advocate of “justice”, “truth”, and da Pinoy way it is. Implying an advocacy for unwarranted search on ordinary citizens was something few people found even remotely amusing. A response from Human Rights Watch researcher Carlos Conde sums up the issue surrounding Navarro’s ill-thought-out tweet:

@leahnavarro that is dangerously close to saying if a citizen didn’t commit a crime, she shouldn’t mind the police barging into her home.

J. Edgar Hoover comes to mind. John Edgar Hoover (January 1, 1895 – May 2, 1972) was the first Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the United States. Appointed director of the Bureau of Investigation—predecessor to the FBI—in 1924, he was instrumental in founding the FBI in 1935, where he remained director until his death in 1972 aged 77.

Late in life and after his death Hoover became a controversial figure as evidence of his secretive actions became public. His critics have accused him of exceeding the jurisdiction of the FBI. He used the FBI to harass political dissenters and activists, to amass secret files on political leaders, and to collect evidence using illegal methods. FBI directors are now limited to one 10-year term, subject to extension by the United States Senate, because of his long and controversial tenure.


[Photo courtesy The Guardian.]

The AMLC, like Hoover’s FBI is supposed to be an independent investigation and regulatory body. What seems to have emerged in today’s trial session is the possibility that the AMLC, like the impeachment trial itself, has become no more than an ineffectually toothless “political exercise”. In fact, the mandate of the AMLC is quite clear and the manner with which the Ombudsman wielded its powers obviously inconsistent with this mandate…

Under Sec. 11 of the AMLA, as amended, “the AMLC may inquire into or examine any particular deposit or investment with any banking institution or non-bank financial institution upon order of any competent court in cases of violation of said law, when it has been established that there is probable cause that the deposits or investments are related to an unlawful activity as defined in Section 3(i) thereof or a money laundering offense under Section 4 thereof.” Without an enabling court order, therefore, the AMLC cannot conduct such inquiry or examination except where the predicate crime involved is kidnapping for ransom, a narcotics offense and hijacking, destructive arson or murder, including those perpetrated by terrorists against non-combatant persons and similar targets.

Furthermore…

If and when the AMLC applies with a competent court for an inquiry order, the court must first give prior notice to the account owner about the planned inquiry or examination, pursuant to the ruling of the Supreme Court in the case of Republic of the Philippines v. Hon. Antonio M. Eugenio, Jr., et al., G.R. No. 174629, February 14, 2008.

No court order and no consent from the account owner. Law violated. Simple.

It starts with small things.

Senators beware. There may already be secret files on your bank accounts and about your personal circumstances somewhere, ready to be “leaked” in a brown envelope to ABS-CBN or the Inquirer.net.

[NB: Parts of this article were lifted off the Wikipedia.org article “J Edgar Hoover” and used in accordance with that site’s Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License consistent with the same license applied by Get Real Post to its content.]

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22 Comments on “AMLC – the new Philippine Constabulary: Impeachment Senator-Judges beware!”

    1. ILLEGAL?

      (Can the Ombusman ‘exercise all powers?)

      The power of the Ombudsman and the AMLA are based on two different laws that are equal in status, according to Dean Antonio La Viña of the Ateneo School of Government.

      “Unless the AMLA says the Ombudsman cannot do it, then she can exercise all powers under the Ombudsman law. Plus there’s the SALN (Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth) waiver,” he explained. La Viña expounds on this in his Thought Leaders piece.

      Roberto Cadiz, executive director of the lawyer’s group Libertas, holds the same view. “They [Ombudsman Act and AMLA] can precede each other. In the Corona impeachment case, however, what happened was that it was the Ombudsman who initiated the fact-finding investigation thus preceding the AMLC,” he said.

      Lawyer Pablito Sanidad – one of the private prosecutors in the impeachment trial of ousted President Joseph Estrada – said that the authority given to the Ombudsman precedes AMLA because it’s stipulated in the 1987 Constitution. “Constitutional provisions always prevail over any other law,” he said.

  1. Currently watching the day 38 impeachment. Such a comedy!
    No validation of evidence should not be used in court.

        1. @nelson

          Just wait for CJ Corona to testify. Your boss BS Aquino won’t have all the cards stacked in his favor. Justice Cuevas is a lot more brilliant than you. Your continuing ad hominem is duly noted and should be noticed by the moderators. Careful… you might end up like Nutzi Vincenzo. He was a really bad troll.

        2. If the defense had not brought in Morales you would not know what is really going on you friggin moron ! But that doesn’t really matter to you does it retard

  2. This Corona investigation is turning into a Nazi-like purge in Hitler’s Nazi Germany. The tactics used. The lies and Media manipulations. The Press releases are also like Nazi’s Joesef Goebbel’s press releases. Lies repeated over and over again. Together with lie peddlers, hired …Anyway Hitler was mentally ill. So is, Noynoy Aquino. We have to watch that our country will not turn like Nazi Germany…

      1. So he’s right after all. PNoy is the most evil of all due to his incompetence and granting priviledges to his oligarch friends and repeated defiance against the rule of law.

        Pareho pala kayong isip-bata e. You know that? Just as expected from an utak-squatter like yourself.

        1. I hate to say it… But, I told you so in my ranting and raving style when I first hit at the sleeping fuhrer I mean president. The worst is yet to come.

          Watch BS Aquino as he continues to act like a wannabe dictator. Watch him as he continues his way of hypocrisy and double standards. Notice the graft and corruption still present in his administration.

          Not the past admin that gets the blame games and scapegoat tags. Watch his cronies, friends, relatives and appointees.

          His perceived enemies will be receiving the full force of the machinery of state. His acts and omissions are duly noted. All elected, appointed people including those with power in the private sector will be selectively targeted by the demagogue who pretends to be a benevolent leader.

          Don’t forget the railroading of cases. Recall the defiance to the SC by the DOJ lackey. Yes, the worst is yet to come.

    1. Public office is a public trust. This doesn’t involve private citizens. Public officials should expect hightened scrutiny.

  3. Is there a simplistic conclusion that anti-Corona crowds want the public to draw? That any public official moving huge sums of money through accounts is automatically stealing from the national coffers? Is this the daang matuwid that they are so proud about?

    On top of that, the notion of “you should bare all if you have nothing to hide” might be applicable to life outside of the court but definitely not within it. The burden of proof always lies on the accuser. And what’s to stop the investigators or anyone else from planting evidence? See quickly how idiotic the notion gets?

    Ironic that PNoy and his crew are turning out like the very dictators they claim to be “fighting” against.

    1. As a person who would take advantage of PDIC’s 500000 insurance per account, and given the amount they’re stating ($12M), I’d say the CJ is making a big mistake with “his” money.

      First of all, 82 accounts is too small a number, if he really wanted his money fully ensured, he needs at least 480 accounts (and that’s assuming $25000 insurance, at Php500000, he should have at least 1000 accounts).

      The biggest mistake of the CJ is that if that is his money, he’s not investing it properly.

      Maybe bad investments should also be an impeachable offense.

  4. It will be almost impossible to root out corruption with all the secrecy and really why do they need to hide what’s the big secret? They work for the people their privacy in this troubling area needs to be accessed by all, troubling Deposits on certain elected dates show that their getting pay offs from somebody. Dollar accounts secret why? Only a few countries are doing this even the Swiss report bank balances to their respective countries.

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