By BERTENI “TOTO” CATALUÑA CAUSING
Editor-in-chief, Dyaryo Magdalo
Whatever Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago or the Supreme Court or others in the same side of the fence say, this author is steadfast that dollar deposits in the Philippines can be subpoenaed by the Impeachment Court.
They are wrong!
The proof is the very same law they cited as absolutely exempting dollar deposits from being scrutinized by the Impeachment Court.
They cite Republic Act 6426.
Yes, I also cite Republic Act 6426.
This time, however, I will also cite in tandem Presidential Decree 1246, the last law that amended RA 6426,
To know, let it be known that RA 6426 became a law on April 4, 1974 and the crucial provision is Section 8, entitled “Secrecy of foreign currency deposits.”
This Section 8 looks like it is ABSOLUTE in keeping foreign currency deposits secret that only the owner of the accounts can allow it to be opened.
But they all missed!
Yes, they all missed the “whereas clauses” or the purposes of the law, PD 1246, that amended RA 6426 on Nov. 21, 1977 (a martial law day).
For better understanding, let the purposes of PD 1246 be quoted as follows:
“WHEREAS, under Republic Act No. 6426, as amended by Presidential Decree No. 1035, certain Philippine banking institutions and branches of foreign banks are authorized to accept deposits in foreign currency;
“WHEREAS, under the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 1034 authorizing the establishment of an offshore banking system in the Philippines, offshore banking units are also authorized to receive foreign currency deposits in certain cases;
“WHEREAS, in order to assure the development and speedy growth of the Foreign Currency Deposit System and the Offshore Banking System in the Philippines, certain incentives were provided for under the two Systems such as confidentiality of deposits subject to certain exceptions and tax exemptions on the interest income of depositors who are nonresidents and are not engaged in trade or business in the Philippines;
“WHEREAS, making absolute the protective cloak of confidentiality over such foreign currency deposits, exempting such deposits from tax, and guaranteeing the vested rights of depositors would better encourage the inflow of foreign currency deposits into the banking institutions authorized to accept such deposits in the Philippines thereby placing such institutions more in a position to properly channel the same to loans and investments in the Philippines, thus directly contributing to the economic development of the country;”
First, note that the purpose of the law clearly says that the absolute confidentiality is only intended for “depositors who are NONRESIDENTS and are NOT ENGAGED IN TRADE OR BUSINESS IN THE PHILIPPINES."
Now, any public official in the Philippines CAN NEVER BE NONRESIDENTS.
Also, any public official in the government CAN NEVER BE ALLOWED to engage in trade or business in the Philippines.
Second, note that the third paragraph of the purposes or “whereas clauses” mentioned the word “exemptions” with an “s” at the end. This means that the amending law wants MORE THAN ONE EXEMPTION.
If there are more than one exemption, what are those exemptions?
This can be answered by reading in full the same Section 8 of RA 6426 as already amended, and it reads as follows:
“Section 8. Secrecy of foreign currency deposits. – All foreign currency deposits authorized under this Act, as amended by PD No. 1035, as well as foreign currency deposits authorized under PD No. 1034, are hereby declared as and considered of an absolutely confidential nature and, except upon the written permission of the depositor, in no instance shall foreign currency deposits be examined, inquired or looked into by any person, government official, bureau or office whether judicial or administrative or legislative, or any other entity whether public or private; Provided, however, That said foreign currency deposits shall be exempt from attachment, garnishment, or any other order or process of any court, legislative body, government agency or any administrative body whatsoever. (As amended by PD No. 1035, and further amended by PD No. 1246, prom. Nov. 21, 1977.)”
A repeated reading of the same Section 8 shows that IT DOES NOT REPEAL Republic Act 1405, which became a law on Sept. 9, 1955.
In Section 2 of RA 1405, it says that ALL DEPOSITS, in foreign or local currencies, are “considered as of an absolutely confidential nature” except upon written permission of the depositor, or in cases of impeachment, or upon order of a competent court in cases of bribery or dereliction of duty of public officials, or in cases where the money deposited or invested is the subject matter of the litigation.
Let Section 2 of RA 1405 be quoted:
"Section 2. All deposits of whatever nature with banks or banking institutions in the Philippines including investments in bonds issued by the Government of the Philippines, its political subdivisions and its instrumentalities, are hereby considered as of an absolutely confidential nature and may not be examined, inquired or looked into by any person, government official, bureau or office, except upon written permission of the depositor, or in cases of impeachment, or upon order of a competent court in cases of bribery or dereliction of duty of public officials, or in cases where the money deposited or invested is the subject matter of the litigation."
Not one of the laws mentioned above have been repelled.
ERGO, if any public official cannot benefit from exemption to secrecy of dollar or other foreign currency accounts, HOW MUCH MORE FOR A JUSTICE OR THE CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT?