Moving on after the trial: repeal of the Foreign Currency Deposit Act followed by a full-scale audit and investigation

The challenge of “moving on” needs to be substantiated. I keep hearing that challenge in the context of the recently-concluded trial and conviction of Philippine Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona. That circus took up no less than six months of the already meagre attention span of Philippine society and, as most circuses do, it had the effect of enclosing the national consciousness into a square even tinier than the already small square that defines the national “debate”.

As I pointed out in my previous article, a strong and extensive tradition of political circuses — whether their outcomes involved the fall of men and women of stature, or the perceived liberation of men and women of ordinary stature from some perceived bogeyman — have exhibited hardly any evidence of any effect on the fortunes of Filipinos both at a micro level (pagpag is likely to remain a key feature of Filipino cuisine 12 or even 36 months from now) or at a macro level (the Philippines will likely still be but a mere footnote in East Asian politics and economics 12 or even 36 months from now).

The hard question therefore remains:

Move on to what exactly?

To answer that question with mere platitudes will simply make us no better than the politicians who manufacture said platitudes. “Unite in our fight” is one such platitude. What exactly does such a call mean? We can’t find meaning in a phrase that simply begs more questions — Unite around what exactly? Fight for what exactly? Is there even a “fight” to begin with? If so, are people actually “fighting” in the real sense?

Back in the old days, fights were won or lost on the battlefield. Ground was taken. Blood was spilt. The spirits of the beaten were ruthlessly crushed by the winners. Flags were raised on top of the losers’ fathers’ and sons’ corpses. New orders were established. There were clear victors who effected a complete and absolute implementation of their way of life upon the people they had subdued and re-wrote history according to how they see it had “actually” transpired.

In short there is no “let’s all get along” after a big trophy head is served on a platter, and certainly there is no waffling around the notion of “moving on” when a battle is finished. America and Australia were built upon the ruins of native American and Aboriginal “nations” respectively. Modern Europe and Arabia are the results of a ruthless cultural cleansing that saw an almost complete eradication of old pagan and animist traditions by Christian and Islamic armies. Southeast Asia is largely defined by borders and “national” identities that are legacies of imperial Euopean edict and trade treaties.

Indeed, conquest of a people does not end with military victory. For the victors, “moving on” almost always means an indefinite and focused occupation of the conquered lands to ensure the locals not only get it in their heads that they had been beaten but start sincerely believing in their hearts what their new masters tell them to believe. Japan is an example of such a successful occupation as it is now, post World War II, a nation that as a matter of policy finds shame in its otherwise proud tradition and talent for warfare.

In the context of current events today in the Philippines, to move on in the real sense does not, of course, involve hacking one’s neighbour to death with a machette just because they flew a different coloured flag during the now-concluded “battle”. There is no “fight” here — not in the last half century as some political blocs would like to lead our emo sentiments to believe.

But for the victory of Malacañang to be complete, the new order — the New Society the government and its people envision — needs to be implemented with precise consistency. The conviction of the Chief Justice this week and the process with which this was executed had given us the following premises upon which the tools can be crafted to make good on this new order:

(1) Understating wealth held in both local and foreign currency on the hallowed pages of the Statement of Assets Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) has been clarified beyond further debatability as an absolute violation of the law.

(2) The attempt made by the prosecution team to introduce information on Corona’s dollar-denominated bank accounts as evidence in the trial and then to get the Senate impeachment court to go as far as to actually debate the possibility of bypassing Section 8 of Republic Act 6426 (“Foreign Currency Deposit Act of the Philippines”) to allow the use of this information in the trial implies a clear legislative agenda over the next several years to repeal what are now evidently outdated bank secrecy laws in the Philippines.

(3) Information routinely gathered and tracked by the Anti Money Laundering Council of the Philippines (AMLC) can be employed by the Ombudsman to investigate government officials when banking activity and movement of funds that can be interpreted as suspicious are detected.

(4) Police action can be mounted and criminal charges filed on the basis of evidence gathered by investigations conducted by the newly-strengthened partnership of the Ombudsman and the AMLC.

The above four premises are nothing new. Indeed, the only hard and long journey required of us is to see the legislative agenda to reform the country’s bank secrecy laws through — a big challenge indeed for a famously forgetful people whose ningas-cogon tradition routinely dooms them to chronic mediocrity and flaccidity of purpose.

But the tools we now have coming out of Corona’s half-year trial gives us unprecedented clarity of what needs to be done next. It is also clear that bank secrecy reform (Point 2) is essential if we truly want to be serious about giving teeth to the imperatives described in Points 3 and 4. Indeed, it is quite the usual irony that Senator Miriam Santiago who voted to acquit Corona spelt out the simple and obvious call to action post-trial:

“God, please give me one more life so I can investigate all of them in Senate and Congress, including myself,” Santiago said.

Seems like people’s marching orders are now a lot clearer than they had ever been in recent memory: (a) there is now a clear legislative agenda to be expected of the 188 congressmen and 20 Senators who convicted Corona — reform of the Philippines’ antiquated bank secrecy laws, and (b) there is now a clear mandate on Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and the AMLC to implement the New Order.

And that, Filipinos, is what “moving on” really means.

[Photo of ‘Laban we won!’ courtesty PCIJ.org.]

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35 Comments on “Moving on after the trial: repeal of the Foreign Currency Deposit Act followed by a full-scale audit and investigation”

  1. “A government is the most dangerous threat to man’s rights: it holds a legal monopoly on the use of physical force and illegal tactics against its chosen victims.” – Ayn Rand

    Freedom of information was always going to be a broken promise.

    The talk of more openness will last until next week at the most

    I dont even see tupas releasing his saln and i am sure his 50 million peso mansion in xavierville is not fully declared. As usual – pot,kettle,black

    Move on to the ‘status quo’ and a widening wealth gap.

  2. related
    “SC to release SALNs” – not quite

    this is carpios pr campaign for the job.
    the SC will start discussing in june which is very different.
    a) it could take 18 months to discuss
    b) the conditions could make it meaningless
    and most importantly
    c) if carpio does not get CJ job he will stop it

  3. After 2 years of freedom from the dreadful Arroyo administration, the country is starting to move and go up again. Our 2012 Q1 GDP states that we are the number one in Southeast Asia in terms of GDP at 6.4% and will continue to rise or stay. Government strong spending on infrastructure and the CCT program are key factors for such growth. Good governance really changes the level of the country unlike Arroyo, she divides the natio to do her job to steal.

    1. The timing of this GDP is very good after we impeached an unfit Chief justice from office. The people will feel good governance of the current administration and also realize that the removal of Corona is one step.

      1. “Corona’s conviction simply continues a tradition of Pinoy mediocrity – the Philippines and Pinoys get the government they deserve.”

      2. Translation: Thanks to Ms. Arroyo for making psycho’s life in Malacanang very much easier. As easy as lifting folders that is!!

    2. If it was Arroyo, she could have overpriced a project or use cheaper resources in infrastructure spending and use ghost beneficiaries in CCT. Im happy that she is in prison.

      1. And you are happy because you are vindictive; you just want her to be in prison because that is what you see on TV. 😛 Your username represents squatter mentality to be exact.

        I bet you got this from ABS-CBN and other questionable sources. So I will never believe you. 🙂

        1. @Nutzi Fishball

          The evidence against GMA is weak. You are happy that she is in prison? You must be into sadism. Is she guilty already before trial. You keep on validating your less than normal psyche.

        2. I think fishball is just stating the fact. That is not vendictiveness. It is you who pre-judged him based from his username. We need to be nice and not get influenced by Miriam Santiago attitude. Let us move on and get along despite difference of opinion. That defines a man’s character.

        3. @Jackass: I beg to disagree on that. And what kind of a ‘fact’ that you want to put it? 😛 He never even replied to me and you got the balls an anti-intellectual schmuck like him?

          BTW, we are putting more FACTS than opinions in this site. Yellow Zombies like him (maybe YOU) used FEELINGS than logic and reasoning. We need people like Miriam Defensor-Santiago because despite of her harsh words, she makes sense after all.

          Are you telling us that we should be EMO pricks and play victims? Mediocrity is also a form of a bad character. That’s why we can never move forward as a nation: most Filipinos hate critically thinking SMART people.

      2. Is the term INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY foreign to you? Tsk. Let evidence show that President Arroyo is guilty of the crimes you said she committed.

        How are we to move on from 3rd world if we continue such idiocy? What’s the point of a better GDP if our moral and ethical sense of fairness and rule of law isn’t any better?

        Also how IMMATURE are you that you still insist on blaming other people beside ourselves in this rut we’re in? How long are you going to blame other people for what ails the country?

    3. Fact is that yours is pure idiocy. What kind of ‘freedom’ are you talking about? Care to elaborate, please. 😛

      Oh yeah, the Q1 6.4% GDP increase is maybe on PNoy but it’s no match for the 7.6%; it was because of Arroyo’s economic policies and not of good governance. Actually, there is no good governance in incompetence and blunders. It was PNoy who divided the nation, not Arroyo.

      You’re not telling the truth after all because THAT is what the media tells you; showing everyone that you are so EMO over GMA claiming she stole millions of YOUR money (when its the governments money to begin with. Taxation money ain’t yours son! You aren’t down with that? Complain about taxation without representation!) when she also was an efficient leader that kept the Philippines economy afloat, invested on its economic side and did what she could to keep the government from going astray as she wasn’t going to get any legitimacy as the transitional leader after Estrada. So in this system, she had to what she can to gain allies, even if it meant throwing money at them.

      What you and people are getting mad about is a small deal. If your fellow schizophrenic president will keep on blaming the past administration and keeps on grabbing credit, then this country is dragging down. 😛

      1. This troll doesn’t realise that, the more his president blames the past admin, the MORE people will get tired of his incompetence…

        It has already been 2 years and 5 months and your bald president has yet to show anything good that came out of his governance.

      2. Daido & Fishball:

        Um, dahan dahan kayo sa pag-quote ng GDP. Hindi yan parang trump cards.

        Remember that article written by Ilda on the ADB paper on inclusive growth? If the almighty GDP was like super duper, di na nya sana isinulat yun.

        ’nuff said.

    4. Good governance my arse. There is no good governance during Cory’s time. Seems you enjoy constant brownouts, right? 😀

  4. After the judgement has been passed we move on. So many issues have not been addressed. Poverty, unemployment, the economy, investor confidence, security, peace and order, blackouts and more impending blackouts due to lack of maintenance.

    Let us include the communist insurgency and the secessionist movement, the peace negotiations being dealt with by the government from a weak and not strong position. The use of negotiators associated(or friendly) with the reds and the secessionists.

    I have even read that the Armed Forces Auxiliary forces will be phased out by 2016. We may need this as a guerrilla force against the Chinese. This will support our external defense forces. Will BS Aquino give away Philippine territory to the MILF? Will he help establish an improved autonomous region which will later evolve into a state within the state? Will he negotiate peace with the CPP-NPA-NDF by allowing them to an alliance? Will he allow them to participate in government? The enemies of the state must be disarmed first and its members revert to civil society.

    How will the great leader deal with the growing Chinese threat? The same way he dealt with the CJ by propaganda and press releases? So many issues and too little time. Let us pray for our country. The great leader might revert to type. Indolence and focus on perceived enemies without considering priorities, assessing the situation and immediate action will only make things worse.

  5. BenignO. It has now been reported that Philippine Ambassador to Syria Nestor Padalhim was permitted to undertake the “necessary corrective action” on certain errors and omissions in his SALNs provided in the “Rules Implementing the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees” in order to be confirmed by the bicameral Commission on Appointments on Wednesday (May 30th).
    http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/260139/news/nation/pnoy-agency-heads-urged-to-allow-public-officers-to-correct-saln

    This is the same CSC Implementing Rule I cited in an earlier blog here. So, the question looms: Why was Corona denied the same opportunity afforded the Ambassador?

    Is this not a classic case of selective enforcement of the law by the Senate?

    1. if that is the case, the verdict on CJ should be overturned. Taena this! Pag kakampi nya oks lang yan pwede ayusin pero pag kalaban tanggalin. DOUBLE STANDARDS! BS BS BS BS talaga!

      sorry for the profanity..kakainit ng ulo!

    2. The senators seem to believe that selective application.

      Kung naalala nyo yung deliberation, mataas daw ang expectation nila sa CJ. Hindi sya dapat nagkakamali.

      Lesser beings ang tingin nila sa mga sarili nila. Senators, congressmen and just about everyone else in government can commit mistakes in their SALNs.

      Is that stupid or what?

      The next CJ should be an accountant…a creative accountant.

  6. Isn’t it ironic that when Pinoys think they’ve won something that they tell everyone else to “move on” and “deal with it”? However, when they get the short end of the stick they expect the world to stop and weep with them.

    1. @ FallenAngel

      Really?

      But maybe actually feeling something ironic how you react to life’s ups and downs does not necessarily reflect that everybody or most people feel the same way you do.

      We have our own breaking points and there are a growing number of people whose thresholds are too short but are coming up in the open so that the majority of those who are capable can help them. Maybe self-help books or group therapy sessions can help alleviate your condition 🙂

    2. The same way they jump on whatever bandwagon for racial motivations. Then the opposite competing bandwagon is racist. Its such an absolute vain perspective to go through life with.

  7. How can you move on, if the Senators and the Congressmen, who impeached Justice Corona, refuse to sign any waiver…Noynoy Aquino himself refuses to sign it…It only means one thing: they are hiding maybe tons and tons of money, in their Bank Accounts…Why would you be afraid to show it, if you have nothing to hide…all public officials, including the President must be transparent..but they don not want to…they hide…

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