Can CJ Corona negate the Ombudsman's revelations?
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2012-05-20

The puny efforts of the camp of Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice (CJ) Renato Corona to dismiss the revelations of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales have thus far failed to debunk the AMLC (Anti Money Laundering Council) sourced dollar transactions. If you understand how the AMLC works, it’s unlikely that the numbers reported will be proven false.

The defense team has said that the AMLC report of Ombudsman Carpio-Morales is unverified and inadmissible as evidence. However, you could see from their faces when Carpio-Morales testified last Monday that they looked like they had a nuclear bomb explode above them while they were sitting in the toilet. The ordure has really hit the fan.

It’s immaterial whether the total amount is $2 million, $10 million or $12 million in the Corona dollar accounts. The core issue is: How did the CJ come to have these amounts and why were these not reflected in his SALN? Ombudsman Carpio-Morales had explained that the numbers are inflows and outflows but not reflective of balances. The balances will be determined when the bank managers are called or if CJ Corona voluntarily opens these accounts on Tuesday when he testifies. 

Per the Ombudsman’s testimony last Monday, the numbers that she had presented all came from the 17-page AMLC report, personally submitted to her by the AMLC Head, Vic Aquino (no relation to the president and known for competence and integrity), in compliance with her prior written request. What could be more official than that? Harping on lack of verification of the AMLC report, the defense is obviously trying to condition the public mind that these numbers could have been manipulated. They took off from CJ Corona’s claim that the Ombudsman’s presentation contained bloated numbers.

A former banker, well versed in AMLC operations, enlightened your Chair Wrecker on this issue. Per this former banker: “What is the source of the AMLA report? The host of the bank or in layman’s terms, the computer hardware and software applications that the banks use to run all their banking applications such as: Over the counter — Deposits/Withdrawals/Time Deposits/Loan Applications/ATM withdrawals/Remittances/etc. Check clearing — all in pesos and dollars and whatever other denomination the banks may be handling in their respective branches.The AMLA report is not a separate report generated but a report generated on a daily basis covering all deposits and withdrawals of P500,000 and above or $10,000 and above on a daily basis which is what is submitted to the AMLC.”

The former banker added: “If you question the integrity, veracity and accuracy of the AMLC reports which are submitted by banks daily for COMPLIANCE with international rules and regulations that have become very stringent due to the financing of terrorism, then you are questioning the integrity, veracity and accuracy of the entire Philippine Financial Services industry. They should subpoena the head of the AMLC and perhaps even the BSP Governor. When I ran branches of Citi in 1993 to 1994, these reports were on my desk every day at the start of business. These are exception reports due to the peso or dollar amounts. In addition, there are so called suspicious transaction reports which banks also run daily. When there is too much activity on a particular account, it will get included in that report as the normal banking activity is what you and I would probably do.

It is defined and parameters are set within the IT system of the banks in order to auto-generate the reports. It is as solid as your bank balances because the Financial Services industry ­­­— banking in particular is one of the most advanced in informatics technology and one of the best managed…It is defined and parameters are set within the IT system of the banks in order to auto-generate the reports. It is as solid as your bank balances because the Financial Services industry — banking in particular is one of the most advanced in informatics technology and one of the best managed.”

You might be able to find bogus land vehicle plates or fake land titles that are rooted to manipulations in the respective government regulatory agencies — but it’s highly unlikely that the AMLC will be party to a manipulated report or an activity that reeks of sheer political persecution. Our Senator-Judges should be very circumspect when they inquire on the AMLC report of Ombudsman Carpio-Morales lest they unnecessarily inflict serious damage on our banking industry.
It’s also highly unlikely that the various banks will cover up for the CJ and deny what they reported to the AMLC. They’ll end up being blacklisted by the global banking community and that’s as good as shutting down their operation.

Last Tuesday, Senator Miriam Santiago tried to impose her legal opinion that the AMLA Law should prevail over the Constitutional mandate of the Ombudsman — but that’s only her legal opinion and she has the knack for mouthing legal opinions as if she was infallible on matters of law. Santiago even had the temerity to engage the Ombudsman in the oppressive manner that brought her notoriety during the trial.

Santiago was just lucky that Ombudsman Carpio-Morales saw it fit not to engage her on this issue of conflicting laws. Carpio-Morales looked every bit like the rational person who saw it fit not to engage one who had gone amuck. If you really think about it, this conflict of laws is more a problem that Congress — the House of Representatives and the Senate — ought to clarify, if not rectify.

Crusading lawyer Harry Roque offers a more credible legal opinion in his May 16 Manila Standard Today column that “the secrecy of dollar deposits is only provided for by a law, while the duty of the Ombudsman to “investigate public official” for “illegal, unjust, improper, or inefficient” acts and its power to “request any government agency for assistance and information necessary x x x and to examine, if necessary, pertinent records and documents” are both provided for by the Constitution. Pursuant to the principle of hierarchy of laws, the Constitutional provisions on the Ombudsman prevail over the prohibition of the FCDU law.”

On Facebook discussions with friends, your Chair Wrecker offered a P100,000 bet to anyone who wants to assert that the Ombudsman’s AMLC report is false or erroneous. Tranquil Salvador et al — put your money where your mouths are.

Shakespeare: “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”

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