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8/14/2015 G.R. No.

200238

ENBANC


G.R.No.200238PHILIPPINESAVINGSBANKandPASCUALM.GARCIAIII,as
representative of PHILIPPINE SAVINGS BANK and in his personal capacity,
Petitioners,versusSENATEIMPEACHMENTCOURTconsistingoftheSenatorsof
the Republic of the Philippines acting as Senator Judges, namely JUAN PONCE
ENRILE, JINGGOY EJERCITO ESTRADA, VICENTE C. SOTTO III, ALAN
PETER S. CAYETANO, EDGARDO J. ANGARA, JOKER P. ARROYO, PIA S.
CAYETANO, FRANKLIN M. DRILON, FRANCIS G. ESCUDERO, TEOFISTO
GUINGONAIII,GREGORIOB.HONASANII,PANFILOM.LACSON,MANUEL
M. LAPID, LOREN B. LEGARDA, FERDINAND R. MARCOS, JR., SERGIO R.
OSMEA III, KIKO PANGILINAN, AQUILINO PIMENTEL III, RALPH G.
RECTO, RAMON REVILLA, JR., ANTONIO F. TRILLANES IV, MANNY
VILLAR, and the HONORABLE MEMBERS OF THE PROSECUTION PANEL
OFTHEHOUSEOFREPRESENTATIVES,Respondents.
Promulgated:
February9,2012

xx

DISSENTINGOPINION

SERENO,J.:

Theprayerforatemporaryrestrainingorder(TRO)bypetitionerPhilippineSavings
Bank(PSBank)againsttheSenateImpeachmentCourtshouldnothavebeengrantedfor
the following reasons: (1) the protection of absolute confidentiality under the Foreign
[1]
CurrencyDepositsAct(FCDA)orRepublicAct(R.A.)No.6426 canonlybeinvoked
[2]
bytheowner,andinthiscase,thefive(5)ForeignCurrencyDeposits(FCDs)involved
are not being officially claimed by Chief Justice Renato C. Corona at this time (2) if
indeed those five accounts belong to Chief Justice Corona, there appears to be a
constitutionallygeneratedpermissiononthelattersparttodisclosetheFCDs(3)evenif
the permission to disclose is deemed absent, the subpoena issued by the Impeachment
Court is a constitutionallyimposed exception to the secrecy of FCDs. From all three

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perspectives,therequirementsfortheissuanceofaTROhavenotbeensatisfied.

Moreimportant,whatthepeopleatthegutlevelunderstandtobetrueisthatthey
have, through the Constitution, enshrined the doctrine on the accountability of public
officers,onthefundamentalbeliefthatpublicofficeisapublictrust.Itcannotgetplainer,
but truer, than that. The Constitution wove, not only in the central motif on public
accountability in Article XI of the Constitution, but in every thread of its fabric, this
legally demandable notion of public accountability. No interpretation of law nor
proceduralrequirementcanbeviewedinanymannerthatnegatesthisbedrockprincipleof
Philippineconstitutionalgovernance.

ItisdisturbingtonotethatthemajorityofthisCourtfailedtoconsiderthecarewith
whichtheSenateImpeachmentCourtcrafteditsResolutiondirectingtheissuanceofthe
assailed subpoena. The decision to lift the cloak of absolute secrecy was categorically
pronounced to apply only in the context of the impeachment trial of Chief Justice
[3]
Corona.Thereareonlythirtyone(31)impeachableofficers, andtherehavebeenonly
two (2) impeachment trials since the beginning of Philippine constitutional history. The
care with which the Senate discharged its role is in sharp contrast with the
incomprehensibledecisionofthemajoritytoabandontheclearstandthattheCourttookin
[4]
Salvacion v. Central Bank of the Philippines that exceptions in the interest of justice
canlifttheabsolutesecrecyofFCDs.Inthescaleofconstitutionalvalues,nothingcanbe
higherthantherequirementofpublicaccountability. Considering that 31 public officers
cannot be removed from office by any other means than impeachment, it is extremely
unwiseforthisCourttoenjointheconductoftheSenateImpeachmentCourt,especially
consideringaspointedoutabovethecarewithwhichthelatterapproachedtheissuanceof
thesubpoenaovertheallegedFCDsoftheChiefJustice.Noneofthese31publicofficers
can,contrarytotheimplicationoftheopinionofJusticeArturoD.Brion,assertthattheir
right to privacy over their foreign currency assets should prevail over the power of the
ImpeachmentCourttoexactpublicaccountability.


PSBanks Claims on the Presence of Rule 65

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ElementsandtheRequirementsforaTROinthe
AssailedAction

PSBank alleges in its Petition for Certiorari that it received a subpoena from the Senate
ImpeachmentCourton07February2012requiringtheformertotestifyandbringoriginal
andcertifiedtruecopiesof,amongothers,fiveFCDsinthenameofChiefJusticeCorona.
PSBankbelieves,howeverthat

1.TheFCDAbarsanyinquiryorexaminationastothedetailsofsuchforeign
currencyaccounts.

2. If Petitioner Garcia, the President of PSBank testifies and brings the
requested bank documents, he will be violating Section 8 of the FCDA and
willbeexposedtocriminalliabilityfordoingso.

3. PetitionerPSBank,ontheotherhand,willsufferthepossiblerevocationor
suspension of its authority to accept new foreign currency deposits by the
BSP...AlsotherearenewsreportsofapossiblebankruniftheRespondent
ImpeachmentCourtproceedstorequirebankofficials...todivulgedetails
ofbankaccountsoftheChiefJustice.

4. TheRespondentImpeachmentCourtcommittedgraveabuseofdiscretion,
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it issued the Assailed
Subpoenaforthefollowingreasons:

I.TheissuanceoftheAssailedSubpoenaclearlyviolatedtheprohibitionunderRA
6426. The cases of Salvacion v. Central Bank of the Philippines (the
SalvacionCase),ChinaBankingCorporationv.CourtofAppeals,etal(the
ChinaBankCase),andEjercitov.Sandiganbayan(theEstradaCase)citedin
the Resolution do not support an exemption from the prohibition in the
Impeachmentproceedings

II. The Respondent Impeachment Court arbitrarily ignored Petitioners
Constitutional right to life and property when it issued the Assailed
Subpoena for foreign currency deposits. Petitioners will clearly incur
criminal liability for violation of RA 6426. Petitioner PS BANK will
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likewiseriskrevocationorsuspensionofitsauthoritytoacceptnewforeign
currency deposits by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) pursuant to
Section87oftheManualofRegulationsonForeignExchangeTransactions.
(Emphasissupplied.)


5.ThisGraveAbuseofDiscretionwascommittedbytheSenateImpeachment
Courtinthismanner:
30.TheRespondentImpeachmentCourtsgrantoftherequestforSubpoena
ofthebankrecordsofforeigncurrencydepositsandtheissuanceoftheSubpoena
against Petitioner PS BANK for such bank records contravenes the absolute
confidentiality of foreign currency deposits under Section 8 of Republic Act No.
6426, or the Foreign Currency Deposit Act of the Philippines (RA 6426) which
provides:
Sec.8.SecrecyofForeignCurrencyDeposits.Allforeigncurrency
deposits authorized under this Act, as amended by Presidential
Decree No. 1035, as well as foreign currency deposits authorized
under Presidential Decree No. 1034, are hereby declared as and
considered of an absolutely confidential nature and, except upon
thewrittenpermissionofthedepositor,innoinstanceshallsuch
foreigncurrencydepositsbeexamined,inquiredorlookedinto
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
currencydepositsshallbeexemptfromattachment,garnishment,or
any other order or process of any court, legislative body,
government agency or any administrative body whatsoever.
(Emphasis[intheoriginal].)
31.AsadmittedbytheRespondentImpeachmentCourt,RA6426,whichis
therecognizedlawthatgovernsforeigncurrencydeposits,clearlyprovidesforonly
oneexceptiontotheprohibitionondisclosureuponpriorwrittenpermissionofthe
depositor.
xxxxxxxxx

33.TheRespondentImpeachmentCourtgravelyabuseditsdiscretionwhen
it went beyond applying RA 6426. The Respondent Impeachment Court did not
just unlawfully reinvent RA 6426, but it also contravened existing jurisprudence
thatitcitedtosupportitsgrantoftheProsecutionPanelsRequestforSubpoena.

33.1.TheSalvacionCasedoesnotsupporttheImpeachmentCourts
issuanceofSubpoenafortheforeigncurrencydeposits.Nolessthan
this Honorable Court categorically stated that it decided not to
uphold the prohibition on disclosure on grounds of equity and
justice. The case had very peculiar circumstances and being an
exception to the rule, it cannot be applied to the chief Justice
Coronasimpeachmenttrial.Itisasuigeneriscase.

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33.1.1. In the Salvacion Case, this Honorable Court


allowed, as a strict exception, the inquiry of the
foreign currency deposit in question mainly due to
the peculiar circumstances of the case such that a
strict interpretation of the letter of the law would
resulttorankinjustice.Inthiscase,GregBartelli,an
American tourist, was charged with criminal cases
for serious illegal detention and rape committed
againstthentwelve(12)yearoldKarenSalvacion.A
separate civil case for damages with preliminary
attachmentwasfiledagainstGregBartelli.Thetrial
court issued an Order granting the Salvacions
application for the issuance of a writ of preliminary
attachment.Anoticeofgarnishmentwasthenserved
onChinaBankwhereBartelliheldadollaraccount.
China Bank refused, invoking the secrecy of bank
deposits.ThisHonorableCourtruled:
It would be unthinkable, that the questioned
Section 113 of Central Bank No. 960 would
beusedasadevicebyaccusedGregBartelli
for wrongdoing, and in so doing, acquitting
theguiltyattheexpenseoftheinnocent.

Callitwhatitmaybutistherenoconflictof
legal policy here? Dollar against Peso?
Upholding the final and executory judgment
of the lower court against the Central Bank
Circular protecting the foreign depositor?
Shieldingorprotectingthedollardepositofa
transientaliendepositoragainstinjusticetoa
nationalandvictimofacrime?Thissituation
callsforfairnessagainstlegaltyranny.
Wedefinitelycannothavebothwaysandrest
inthebeliefthatwehaveservedtheendsof
justice.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the provisions of
Section113ofCBCircularNo.960andP.D.
No. 1246, insofar as it amends Section 8 of
R.A. No. 6426 are hereby held to be
INAPPLICABLE to this case because of its
peculiar circumstances. Respondents are
hereby REQUIRED to COMPLY with the
writofexecutionissuedinCivilCaseNo.89
3214,KarenSalvacion,etal.vs.GregBartelli
yNorthcott,byBranchCXLIV,RTCMakati
and to RELEASE to petitioners the dollar
deposit of respondent Greg Bartelli y
Northcottinsuchamountaswouldsatisfythe
judgment.
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xxxxxxxxx

33.2 The Respondent Impeachment Court also misconstrued the China Bank Case. The China
Bank Case actually highlights the fact that the only exception to the prohibition on
disclosureonforeigncurrencydepositsisthepriorwrittenpermissionofthedepositor.
33.2.1. In the China Bank Case, respondent accused his daughter of stealing his dollar
depositswithCitibank,N.A.(Citibank).Hisdaughterallegedlyreceivedthe
checks from Citibank and deposited them to her account in China Bank.
Thesubjectcheckswerepresentedinevidence.Asubpoenawasissuedto
employees of China Bank to testify on these checks. China Bank argued
thattheCitibankdollarcheckswithbothrespondentand/orherdaughteras
payees,depositedwithChinaBank,maynotbelookedintounderthelaw
onsecrecy offoreign currencydeposits.This Honorable court, relying on
theexceptionunderRA6426,asamended,ruledthatrespondent,asowner
ofthefundsunlawfullytakenandwhichweredepositedwithChinaBank,
had the right to inquire into the said deposits because his consent was
deemedgiven.ThisHonorableCourtfurtherexpresslystatedthatallthings
considered and in view of the distinctive circumstances attendant to the
presentcase,weareconstrainedtorenderalimitedprohacviceruling,ora
rulingforthisoneparticularoccasion.
33.2.2.ThisHonorableCourtemphasizedtheabsoluteconfidentialityofforeigncurrency
deposits:
xxxthe law provides that all foreign currency deposits authorized under Republic Act
No.6426,asamendedbySec.8,PresidentialDecreeNo.1246,Presidential
Decree No. 1035, as well as foreign currency deposits authorized under
Presidential Decree No. 1034 are considered absolutely confidential in
nature and may not be inquired into. There is only one exception to the
secrecyofforeigncurrencydeposits,thatis,disclosureisalloweduponthe
writtenpermissionofthedepositor.
33.3. The Respondent Impeachment Courts citation of the Estrada Case is utterly misleading,
becausethiscasedoesnotinvolveforeigncurrencydepositanddidnotmentionRA6426.
33.3.1.Theexceptionstoconfidentialityprovidedunderanotherstatute,RepublicActNo.
1405, The Secrecy of Bank Deposit Laws, as amended, and related laws
andjurisprudence,particularlyincasesofimpeachment,wherethemoney
depositedorinvestedisthesubjectmatterofthelitigationandunexplained
wealth, do not apply to foreign currency deposits. In GSIS v. Court of
Appeals,thisHonorableCourtexplainedthattheapplicablelawforforeign
currencydepositsisRA6426,andnotRA1405.
33.3.2. Applying Section 8 of RA 6426, as amended, this Honorable Court held that
Westmont Bank cannot be compelled to disclose the dollar deposits of
DomsatHoldings,Inc.TheHonorableCourtruled:
These two laws both support the confidentiality of bank deposits. There is no
conflictbetweenthem.Republic ActNo. 1405was enacted
for the purpose of giving encouragement to the people to
deposittheirmoneyinbankinginstitutionsandtodiscourage
private hoarding so that the same may be properly utilized
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by banks in authorized loans to assist in the economic


developmentofthecountry.Itcoversallbankdepositsinthe
Philippines and no distinction was made between domestic
and foreign deposits. Thus, Republic Act No. 1405 is
consideredalawofgeneralapplication.On the other hand,
RepublicActNo.6426wasintendedtoencouragedeposits
from foreign lenders and investors. It is a special law
designed especially for foreign currency deposits in the
Philippines. A general law does not nullify a specific or
speciallaw.Generaliaspecialibusnonderogant.Therefore,
it is beyond cavil that Republic Act No. 6426 applies in
thiscase.(Emphasis[intheoriginal].)
34.Basedontheforegoing,it is abundantly clear that the Respondent Impeachment Court
exercised its power to issue the Assailed Subpoena in a capricious, whimsical, and
arbitrary manner. The abuse of discretion demonstrated by the Respondent
Impeachment Court is both patent and gross as it clearly violated the law. On this
ground alone, there is more than enough reason for this Honorable Court to grant
thisPetition.(Emphasissupplied)
xxxxxxxxx

38.ItisclearfromtheforegoingthatPetitionersdisclosureofinformationrelatedtoanyforeign
currency deposit under circumstances that are not covered by the exemptions provided
underRANo.6426,evenifdoneingoodfaithorpursuanttoanorderoftheRespondent
ImpeachmentCourt,willexposePetitionerGarciauponconvictiontocriminalliabilityand
Petitioner PS Bank to possible revocation or suspension of its authority to accept new
foreigncurrencydepositsbytheBSP.
xxxxxxxxx

40. The curtailment of PS Banks right to property is also undeniable from the fact that the
revocationorsuspensionofPSBanksauthoritytoacceptnewforeigncurrencydepositsby
the BSP will necessarily translate to immediate loss of income for PS Bank. This is in
additiontothechillingeffectthatwillbefeltbytheotherbanks,whoseforeigncurrency
depositors may be alarmed by the Respondent Impeachment Courts arbitrary and
whimsical examination of a foreign currency deposit supposedly protected by RA 6426
[5]
andsubjecttothestrictrequirementofdisclosureundertheAMLA.

The Reasoning of the Senate for Issuing the


AssailedSubpoena

TheSenateImpeachmentCourtlaiddownthelegalbasisfortheissuanceoftheassailed
subpoena in its Resolution dated 02 February 2012 under the hand of Senate President
JuanPonceEnrile,andwequote:
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TheCourthashadtoconsiderwhetherornottheissuanceofthesubpoenaewouldviolateexisting
lawsonsecrecyofbankdeposits.UnderR.A.No.1405asamendedandtheAntiMoney
LaunderingAct,thedisclosureofinformationrelatingtobankaccountsinlocalcurrency
cannot be made except in five (5) instances, namely: a) upon written permission of the
depositor,(b)incasesofimpeachment,(c)uponorderofacompetentcourtinthecaseof
bribery or dereliction of duty of public officials or, (d) when the money deposited or
invested is the subject matter of the litigation, and (e) in cases of violation of the Anti
Money Laundering Act (AMLA). However, it appears that for foreign currency bank
accounts, the disclosure may be made only upon written permission of the depositor
pursuanttoSection8ofRepublicActNo.6426.
However, the Court has taken due notice of the fact that the Supreme Court has, in several
decisions, relaxed the rule on the absolute confidential nature of bank deposits, even
foreign currency deposit accounts, in the cases of Salvacion vs. Central Bank of the
Philippines, G.R. No. 94723, August 21, 1997 and China Banking Corporation v.
Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 140687, December 18, 2006 and Ejercito vs.
Sandiganbayan,G.R.Nos.15729495,November30,2006.Themajorityisoftheview
thatthepresentimpeachmentproceedingspresentavalidexceptiontothegeneralruleon
confidentialityofinformationonbankaccountsevenforforeigncurrencybankaccounts.
The Court would like to emphasize that the nondisclosure of information relating to the bank
accountsofindividualsisstillthegeneralruleandithasnointentionofgoingagainstthe
publicpolicyonthismatter.However,theCourtisonlyissuingthesubpoenarelatingto
the bank accounts of Chief Justice Corona because of the pendency of the present
impeachmentproceedingsandfornootherreason.
WHEREFORE, IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the majority votes to grant the Prosecutions
RequestsforSubpoenaetotheresponsibleofficersofPhilippineSavingsBank(PSBank)
andBankofPhilippineIsland(BPI),forthemtotestifyandbringand/orproducebefore
the Court documents on the alleged bank accounts of Chief Justice Corona, only for the
purposeoftheinstantimpeachmentproceedings,asfollows:
xxxxxxxxx

b)TheBranchManager(and/orauthorizedrepresentative)ofPhilippineSavingsBank,Katipunan
Branch,KatipunanAvenue,LoyolaHeights,QuezonCity,iscommandedtobringbefore
theSenateat2:00p.m.onFebruary8,2012,theoriginalandcertifiedtruecopiesofthe
accountopeningforms/documentsforthefollowingbankaccountsallegedlyinthename
ofRenatoC.Corona,andthedocumentsshowingthebalancesofthesaidaccountsasof
December31,2007,December31,2008,December31,2009andDecember31,2010:
089191000373
089131002826
089121017358
089121019593
089121020122
089121021681
089141007129
089141007469
089141008145
[6]
089121011957 (Emphasisintheoriginal.)

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The Essence of PSBanks Attack Against the
ImpeachmentCourtAction

PSBankisessentiallyarguingthattheSenateImpeachmentCourt,inissuingthesubpoena,
sogrosslyerredorwassowhimsicalandarbitraryinitsunderstandingandapplicationof
[7]
three (3) Decisions of the Supreme Court that its action amounted to exercising a
jurisdictionitdidnothaveorthatitexceededthesameastoloselegitimatejurisdiction
overthematterincontention.

Tosucceedinsuchalineofreasoning,PSBankhastoprovethatthethreecasescitedby
the Senate are so categorical in their pronouncement on the absolute confidentiality of
FCDs,suchthattheImpeachmentCourtactedwhimsicallyandarbitrarilyorwasingross
negligencetosuchanextentthattheImpeachmentCourtcouldnotjustifyitsreasoningin
issuingthesubpoena,asfoundinthefollowingparagraph:

However, the Court has taken due notice of the fact that the Supreme Court has, in
several decisions, relaxed the rule on the absolute confidential nature of bank
deposits, even foreign currency deposit accounts, in the cases of Salvacion vs. Central
Bank of the Philippines, G.R. No. 94723, August 21, 1997 and China Banking
Corporationv.CourtofAppeals,G.R.No.140687,December18,2006andEjercitovs.
Sandiganbayan,G.R.Nos.15729495,November30,2006.Themajorityisoftheview
thatthepresentimpeachmentproceedingspresentavalidexceptiontothegeneralruleon
confidentialityofinformationonbankaccountsevenforforeigncurrencybankaccounts.

Inplainlanguage,wastheSenateImpeachmentCourtsogrosslyincompetentormalicious
in invoking the three Decisions of the Supreme Court to justify the issuance of the
subpoena?

RegardingSalvacion,PSBankclaimsthatwhiletheSupremeCourtdecidednottouphold
theprohibitionondisclosureongroundsofequityandjustice,[t]hecasehadverypeculiar
circumstancesandbeinganexceptiontotherule,itcannotbeappliedtotheChiefJustice
[8]
Coronasimpeachmenttrial.Salvacionisasuigeneriscase.

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Onthisscore,itmustbeemphasizedthatthereare,inacountryof96millionpeople,only
[9]
thirtyone (31) people as earlier mentioned, who are removable from office by the
extraordinary process of impeachment. From the time that impeachment as a mode of
removal was provided for in the 1935 Constitution, an impeachment trial has only been
seentwiceinthecaseofformerPresidentJosephEjercitoEstradaandnowinthatofChief
Justice Corona. It will be extremely difficult to find any other very peculiar set of
circumstancesorsuigeneriscasethatwouldexceedthepresentimpeachmenttrialinthose
aspects.TheSenateImpeachmentCourtwassuperblycarefulinensuringthattheissuance
oftheassailedsubpoenadoesnotcreateanylegaleffectbeyondthatoftheconductofthe
impeachmenttrial.Itthusdeclared:
TheCourtwouldliketoemphasizethatthenondisclosureofinformationrelatingtothe
bankaccountsofindividualsisstillthegeneralruleandithasnointentionofgoingagainst
thepublicpolicyonthismatter.However,theCourtisonlyissuingthesubpoenarelating
to the bank accounts of Chief Justice Corona because of the pendency of the present
impeachmentproceedingsandfornootherreason.

WHEREFORE, IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the majority votes to grant the Prosecutions
RequestsforSubpoenaetotheresponsibleofficersofPhilippineSavingsBank(PSBank)
andBankofPhilippineIsland(BPI),forthemtotestifyandbringand/orproducebefore
theCourtdocumentsontheallegedbankaccountsofChiefJusticeCorona,onlyforthe
purposeoftheinstantimpeachmentproceedings,asfollows:xxx(Emphasissupplied.)

Ontheotherhand,whilesexualabuseatthehandsofanyone,includingforeigners,isone
ofthemostcruelexperiencesaminorcaneverundergoasintheSalvacioncase,itisnot
as peculiar nor as sui generis as the ongoing conduct of an impeachment trial. And yet,
PSBankconsiderstheSalvacionsituationsufficienttojustifythedisclosureofthedetails
of a foreign nationals FCD. Its own demand that the situation needs to be very peculiar
before the cloak of absolute confidentiality can be lifted has been more than met in the
contextinwhichtheassailedsubpoenawasissued.

Regarding China Bank, PSBank claims that the case actually highlights the fact that the
only exception to the prohibition on disclosure on foreign currency deposits is the prior
writtenpermissionofthedepositor.Itthenwenttoemphasizethattheauthoritygivenby
the Supreme Court to disclose information on the FCD was a pro hac vice ruling,
meaning,itappliesonlytothatcase.

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What PSBank failed to mention, however, was that while China Bank reiterated the
statutory privilege of the confidentiality of FCDs, the Supreme Court was careful to
balancethisprivilegewiththefollowingconsiderations:

ItisinthislightthatthecourtinthecaseofSalvacionv.CentralBankofthePhilippines,allowed
the inquiry of the foreign currency deposit in question mainly due to the peculiar
circumstances of the case such that a strict interpretation of the letter of the law would
result to rank injustice. Therein, Greg Bartelli y Northcott, an American tourist, was
chargedwithcriminalcasesforseriousillegaldetentionandrapecommittedagainstthen
12 yearold Karen Salvacion. A separate civil case for damages with preliminary
attachment was filed against Greg Bartelli. The trial court issued an Order granting the
Salvacions application for the issuance of a writ of preliminary attachment. A notice of
garnishmentwasthenservedonChinaBankwhereBartelliheldadollaraccount.China
Bankrefused,invokingthesecrecyofbankdeposits.TheSupremeCourtruled:Infine,the
applicationofthelawdependsontheextentofitsjusticexxxItwouldbeunthinkable,
that the questioned law exempting foreign currency deposits from attachment,
garnishment, or any other order or process of any court, legislative body, government
agencyoranyadministrativebodywhateverwouldbeusedasadevicebyanaccusedx
xxforwrongdoing,andinsodoing,acquittingtheguiltyattheexpenseoftheinnocent.
(Emphasissupplied.)

[10]
PetitionersarecorrectinstatingthatEjercito v. Sandiganbayan (which they call the
Estrada case) is inapplicable as it does not involve FCDs. Nevertheless, another Estrada
[11]
case,Estradav.Desierto, categoricallypronouncesthattheprivilegeunderSection8
ofR.A.6426appliesonlytodepositorswhoarenonresidents,andwhoarenotengagedin
tradeandbusinessinthePhilippines.Wequoteinrelevantpart:

Finally, with respect to the complaint for violation of Section 8 of Rep. Act No. 6426
(ForeignCurrencyDepositsActofthePhilippines),publicrespondentratiocinated
At this point, it is worth stressing, that this office in its previous
Order dated 20 February 2001, ruled that the absolute confidentiality of
foreign currency deposit account provided for under R.A. 6426 does not
applytotheforeigncurrencydepositaccountsofhereincomplainant,
sincetheprotectionunderthesaidlawisintendedonlyfordepositors
whoarenonresidentsandarenotengagedintradeandbusinessinthe
Philippines.Incomingoutwithsuchruling,thisofficehasasitsbasis
oneoftheWhereasclausesofP.D.1246whichamendedSec.8ofR.A.
6426. For emphasis, the pertinent provision of the said law is hereby
quoted:
WHEREAS, in order to assure the development and speedy
growthoftheForeignCurrencyDepositSystemandoffshoreBanking
System in the Philippines, certain incentives were provided for under
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the two systems such as confidentiality of deposits subject to certain


exceptions and tax exemptions on the interest of the income of
depositors who are nonresidents and are not engaged in trade or
businessinthePhilippines.
ConsideringthepreviousOrderofthisOffice,itnecessarilyfollows
that the accusation for violation of Sec. 8 of R.A. 6426 against herein
respondents has no leg to stand on, thus, the dismissal of the charge for
violationofSec.8ofR.A.6426isthereforeinorder.
And:
InSalvacion v. Central Bank and China Bank, 278 SCRA 27 (1997), the
HighestTribunaladoptedtheopinionoftheOfficeoftheSolicitorGeneral(OSG)
that only foreign currency deposits of foreign lenders and investors are given
protection and incentives by the law, and further ruled that the Foreign Currency
Deposits Act cannot be utilized to perpetuate injustice. Following such
pronouncements, it is respectfully submitted that foreign currency deposits of
Filipinodepositors, including hereincomplainant, arenot coveredbythe Foreign
CurrencyDepositsAct,andarethusnotexemptfromtheprocessesdulyissuedby
theBIR.
Wedonotperceiveanygraveabuseofdiscretiononthepartofthepublicrespondent
whentheyissuedtheaforecitedrulings.We, thus, defer to the policy of noninterference in the
conduct of preliminary investigations. We have invariably stated that it is not sound practice to
depart from the policy of noninterference in the Ombudsman's exercise of discretion to determine
whetherornottofileinformationagainstanaccused.Theruleisbasednotonlyuponrespectforthe
investigatoryandprosecutorypowersgrantedbytheConstitutiontotheOfficeoftheOmbudsman
butuponpracticalityaswell.Otherwise,thefunctionsofthecourtswillbegrievouslyhamperedby
innumerablepetitionsassailingthedismissalofinvestigatoryproceedingsconductedbytheOfficeof
the Ombudsman with regard to complaints filed before it, in much the same way that the courts
wouldbeabsolutelyswampediftheycouldbecompelledtoreviewtheexerciseofdiscretiononthe
partofthefiscalsorprosecutingattorneyseachtimetheydecidedtofileaninformationincourtor
dismissed a complaint by a private complainant. Thus, in the absence of a clear case of abuse of
discretion,thisCourtwillnotinterferewiththediscretionoftheOmbudsman,who,dependingonhis
ownfindingsandconsideredevaluationofthecase,eitherdismissesacomplaintorproceedswithit.
(Emphasisandunderliningsupplied.)

Moreover, in this case, the Court en banc unanimously stated that the
OmbudsmansinterpretationofR.A.6426andSalvacion,shoulditevenbeshownto
beerroneous,maynotbethesubjectofaPetitionforCertiorari,sincetheexerciseof
discretion was not so grave as to give this Court the power to interfere with the
proceedingstherein,thus:

Acautionaryword.AdeclarationbythisCourtthatthepublicrespondentsdidnotgravely
abusetheirdiscretioninissuingtheresolutionsdismissingpetitionerscomplaintdoesnotnecessarily
translatetoadeclarationofassentinthefindingsoffactandconclusionsoflawcontainedtherein.
With respect specifically to the resolution for violation of Section 8 of Rep. Act. No. 6426,
publicrespondentsreliedonthewhereasclauseofP.D.No.1246whichamendedRep.ActNo.
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6426 and on the Salvacion case to conclude that only nonresidents who are not engaged in
trade and business are under the mantle of protection of Section 8 of Rep. Act. No.
6426. Assuming that such reliance is erroneous as contended by petitioner, this Court, on
petition for certiorari, cannot correct the same as the error is not of a degree that would
amounttoaclearcaseofabuseofdiscretionofthegraveandmalevolentkind.Itisaxiomatic
thatnoteveryerroneousconclusionoflaworfactisabuseofdiscretion.Asadvertedtoearlier,
this Court will interfere in the Ombudsmans findings of fact and conclusions of law only in
clearcasesofgraveabuseofdiscretion.(Emphasissupplied)


Inotherwords,theSenateImpeachmentCourtwasmorethanamplyjustifiedinissuing
theassailedsubpoenaanddemonstratedsufficientcaretoobservethelawindefiningthe
parametersoftheapplicabilityofitsassailedordertoPSBank.ThisCourtiscompletely
wrongtodenytheImpeachmentCourtsuseoftheSalvacioncaseinjustifyingtheassailed
subpoena, when this Court in Estrada v. Desierto recognized the Ombudsmans right to
relyonSalvacion.


TheRequirementsfortheIssuanceofaTRO


For a preliminary injunctive relief to issue, three conditions must obtain: (a) the
invasion of right sought to be protected is material and substantial (b) the right of the
plaintiffisclearandunmistakableand(c)thereisanurgentandparamountnecessityfor
[12]
thewrittopreventseriousdamage.

Inthepresentcase,petitionershavemiserablyfailedtoshowanactualexistingright
thatisviolatedorthreatenedwithviolation.TheissuancebytheImpeachmentCourtofa
subpoena relating to the alleged FCDs of therein respondent Chief Justice Renato C.
Coronadoesnotentitlepetitionerstoapreliminaryinjunctiverelief.


SinceAnyoneHasYettoClaimOwnershipofthe
5 FCDs, PSBank Cannot Prematurely Invoke the
PrivilegeofAbsoluteConfidentiality


Section 8 of R.A. No. 6426 provides an exception to the absolute confidentiality

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natureofFCDs,inthatthewrittenpermissionofthedepositormayconstituteawaiverof
thisprivilege.Whatcanbelogicallyinferredfromthisprovisionisthattheconfidentiality
natureoftheFCDisextendedonlyinfavoroftheowneroftheaccount.Stateddifferently,
it is only the depositor who may invoke the confidentiality privilege and the exception
thereto. This was precisely the pronouncement of this Court in Van Twest v. Court of
[13]
Appeals:

[T]he Court holds that the privileges extended by the statute cited by private
respondent are actually enjoyed, and are invocable only, by the petitioner, both because
privaterespondent'stransactionsfalloutsidetheambitofthestatute,andbecausepetitioneristhe
owner of the foreign exchange fund subject of this case. This conclusion is anchored on the
consistent and contemporaneous administrative construction by the Central Bank of the basic
statute,asmanifestedintherelevantcircularsissuedbyitinimplementationofthatlaw,whichare
entitledtogreatrespectbythecourts.

Section8ofR.A.No.6426(theForeignCurrencyDepositAct),asamendedbyP.D.No.
1246,whichisstillinforce,provides:

Sec. 8. Secrecy of Foreign Currency Deposits All foreign currency
depositsauthorizedunderthisAct,asamendedbyPresidentialDecreeNo.1035,
as well as foreign currency deposits authorized under Presidential Decree No.
1034, are hereby declared as and considered of an absolutely confidential nature
and,exceptuponthewrittenpermissionofthedepositor,innoinstanceshallsuch
foreign currency deposits be examined, inquired or looked into by any person,
government official, bureau or office, whether judicial or administrative or
legislativeoranyotherentitywhetherpublicorprivate:Provided,however,that
saidforeigncurrencyshallbeexemptfromattachment,garnishment,oranyother
order or process of any court, legislative body, government agency or any
administrativebodywhatsoever.

xxxxxxxxx

Circular No. 960 was superseded by Circular No. 1318, Series of 1992, which did not
reenact and continue the administrative provision abovementioned (Section 102). Nevertheless,
Sectionseventyfour,ChaptersevenofCircularNo.1318,whichdealswiththeforeigncurrency
depositsystem,providesinrelevantpart:

Section 74. Definition of Terms. As used in this Chapter, the following
terms shall have the meaning indicated unless the context clearly indicates
otherwise:

xxxxxxxxx

ThedefinitionofsuchothertermsusedinthisChaptershallbeconsistent
withthedefinitionoftermsusedundertheChapteronOffshoreBankingSystem.

Sectionfortynine,ChapterfiveofthesameCircular,dealingwiththeOffshoreBanking
System,statedinpart:

Section49.DefinitionofTerms....

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xxxxxxxxx

d.Deposits shall refer to funds in foreign currencies which are accepted
andheldbyanOBU(offshorebankingunit)intheregularcourseofbusiness,with
theobligationtoreturnanequivalentamounttotheownerthereof,withorwithout
interest

xxxxxxxxx

In other words, although transfers from one foreign currency deposit account to another
foreign currency deposit account in the Philippines are now eligible deposits under the Central
Bank's Foreign Currency Deposit System, private respondent is still not entitled to the
confidentialityprovisionsoftherelevantcirculars.For,asnotedearlier,privaterespondent
isnottheownerofsuchforeigncurrencyfundsandherpersonaldepositaccountisnot,under
Section49ofCircularNo.1318,protectedbythisCircular.(Emphasissupplied.)


Inthepresentcase,theprosecutionallegesthattheFCDaccountsareownedbythe
ChiefJustice,whilethedefensedenieshisownershipofthesame.Thedocumentsrelating
to these accounts were in fact subpoenaed to ascertain whether the Chief Justice is the
named depositor therein. Thus, until the ownership of these FCDs is established, the
confidentialityprivilegeunderR.A.6426isyettoattach.

Nowhere in the 28page Petition of PSBank does it assert that the five FCDs belong to
Chief Justice Corona. Indeed, even under intense questioning by the SenatorJudges,
petitioner Garcia was not willing to share the slightest information regarding these 5
[14]
FCDs. Petitionersintheiranswerstate:


xxx.On3February2012,theRespondentPanelofProsecutorsfileditsSupplementalRequest
forSubpoena/Reply,designatingthereintheparticularbankaccountsinPSBANKwhich
[15]
allegedlybelongedtotheChiefJusticexxx


Neither does the Chief Justice categorically claim in his related Petition for
CertioraridocketedasG.R.No.200242thatthefiveFCDsbelongtohim.

Chief Justice Corona asserts that the documents on the five FCDs are just alleged
genuinedocuments,thusconveyingthesensethatheisunwillingtoadmitthattheFCDs
arehis.Yet,inthesamebreath,hevigorouslyproteststhatwithouttheownerspermission,
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detailsonthoseFCDscannotbedisclosedeventotheImpeachmentCourt.

AfteradraftofthisOpinionwascirculatedamongthemembersofthisCourton10
February 2011, a newspaper report came out the following day referring to a public
admission by the Chief Justice with respect to the dollar accounts in question and a
[16]
promisethathewillmakethedisclosuresinduetime. Thishowever,isnottheclaim
ofownershipcontemplatedinVanTwest.

Additionally,defensecounseltellsthemediathattheyarestandingbytheaccuracy
[17]
of the SALNs of the Chief Justice. Explicitly, Tranquil Salvador III, a defense
spokesperson,saidthattheanswertothebasicissueoftheaccuracyofthedetailsofChief
Justice Coronas SALN was the basic defense, and to the question Is it accurate? he
[18]
responded:Yes,itisaccurate.

Until therefore, there is a clear claim by the Chief Justice of ownership of the 5
FCDs,thisCourthastoconsiderthatthereexistsanimplieddenialofownershipofany
bankaccountcontainingmoneybeyondwhatisdisclosedintheChiefJusticesSALN.

Whatwehavehereisasituationinwhichapersonseekstohavehiscakeandeatit
too.Ontheonehand,thereisdenialorattheveryleast,nooutrightclaimofownershipof
the alleged FCDs and yet, on the other, the person seeks the absolute protection from
disclosurethatcanonlybegrantedtoanowner.

Considering that it is still premature for the Chief Justice to avail of the
confidentialityprivilegeashecontinuestobevagueontheownershipoftheFCDs,neither
isitripeforpetitionerstoinvokeitonhisbehalf.MerecompliancewiththeImpeachment
Courtssubpoenatobringthedocumentswillnotengenderpetitionersperceivedcriminal
liability or risk revocation of the banks license to operate or suspension for violation of
R.A. 6426, precisely because the rule on secrecy has not yet attached. It is for the same
reason why this Court should treat as absurd petitioner Garcias contention that the
resultingexposuretoimprisonmentwilldeprivehimoftherighttolife.

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A ConstitutionallyGenerated Consent to Disclose
AttachestotheHoldingofAnyPublicOffice

Inthepresentcase,becauseofthefactthattheChiefJusticeisapublicofficer,heis
constitutionallyandstatutorilymandatedtoperformapositivedutytodiscloseallof his
assetsandliabilities.Thisalreadyoperatesastheconsentrequiredbylaw.

The Offices of the Chief Justice and of the 14 Associate Justices of the Supreme
[19]
Court are an express creation of the Constitution, which vests them with explicit
[20]
powers necessaryfortheproperfunctioningofademocraticgovernment.


Foremostistheprinciplethatpublicofficeisbyvirtueofthepeoplesmandatetoexercise
[21]
a sovereign function of the government. Hence, a public office is a public trust or
[22]
agency. Appendedtotheconstitutionalprinciplethatpublicofficeisapublictrustis
the tenet that public officers occupy very delicate positions that exact certain standards
[23]
generallynotdemandedfromorrequiredofordinarycitizens.

Thosewhoacceptapublicofficedosocumonere,orwithaburden,andareconsideredas
accepting its burdens and obligations, together with its benefits. They thereby subject
themselvestoallconstitutionalandlegislativeprovisionsrelatingthereto,andundertaketo
performallthedutiesoftheiroffice.Thepublichastherighttodemandtheperformance
[24]
ofthoseduties.

OneoftheseburdensordutiesisexplicitlyarticulatedinSec.17ofArt.XIofthe1987
Constitution,viz:

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.InthecaseofthePresident,theVicePresident,theMembersoftheCabinet,theCongress,
theSupremeCourt,theConstitutionalCommissionsandotherconstitutionaloffices,andofficers
ofthearmedforceswithgeneralorflagrank,thedeclarationshallbedisclosedtothepublicin
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themannerprovidedbylaw.(Emphasissupplied.)

This provision requires all public officers and employees, regardless of rank, to declare
their assets and liabilities upon their assumption of office, as may be required by law.
However, it likewise imposes a positive duty and a heavier onus on the President the
VicePresidentandmembersoftheCabinet,Congress,theSupremeCourt,Constitutional
Commissions and other Constitutional offices and officers of the Armed Forces with
[25]
generalorflagrankstopubliclydisclosetheirassetsandliabilities.

Even prior to the 1987 and the 1973 Constitution, our laws have already imposed
theobligationtodiscloseownershipofpropertiesandassets.Thus,asearlyas1960,R.A.
3019, otherwise known as the AntiGraft and Corrupt Practices Act, was promulgated,
requiring from every public officer a detailed and sworn statement of their assets and
liabilities.Underthislaw,failuretocomplyisprimafacieevidenceofunexplainedwealth,
whichmayresultinthedismissalfromserviceofthepublicofficer,viz:
SECTION7.Statementofassetsandliabilities.Everypublicofficer,withinthirty
daysafterassumingofficeand,thereafter,onorbeforethefifteenthdayofAprilfollowing
the close of every calendar year, as well as upon the expiration of his term of office, or
uponhisresignationorseparationfromoffice,shallprepareandfilewiththeofficeofthe
corresponding Department Head, or in the case of a Head of Department or Chief of an
independentoffice,withtheOfficeofthePresident,atrue,detailedandswornstatement
ofassetsandliabilities,includingastatementoftheamountsandsourcesofhisincome,
theamountsofhispersonalandfamilyexpensesandtheamountofincometaxespaidfor
thenextprecedingcalendaryearProvided,Thatpublicofficersassumingofficelessthan
twomonthsbeforetheendofthecalendaryear,mayfiletheirfirststatementonorbefore
thefifteenthdayofAprilfollowingthecloseofthesaidcalendaryear.

SECTION8.Primafacieevidenceofanddismissalduetounexplainedwealth.If
inaccordancewiththeprovisionsofRepublicActNumberedOnethousandthreehundred
seventynine, a public official has been found to have acquired during his incumbency,
whetherinhisnameorinthenameofotherpersons,anamountofpropertyand/ormoney
manifestlyoutofproportiontohissalaryandtohisotherlawfulincome,thatfactshallbe
agroundfordismissalorremoval.Propertiesinthenameofthespouseanddependentsof
such public official may be taken into consideration, when their acquisition through
legitimate means cannot be satisfactorily shown. Bank deposits in the name of or
manifestlyexcessiveexpendituresincurredbythepublicofficial,hisspouseoranyoftheir
dependents including but not limited to activities in any club or association or any
ostentatiousdisplayofwealthincludingfrequenttravelabroadofanonofficialcharacter
byanypublicofficialwhensuchactivitiesentailexpensesevidentlyoutofproportionto
legitimate income, shall likewise be taken into consideration in the enforcement of this
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section, notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary. The circumstances


hereinabovementionedshallconstitutevalidgroundfortheadministrativesuspensionof
the public official concerned for an indefinite period until the investigation of the
unexplainedwealthiscompleted.

On13November1961,R.A.3047amendedR.A.3019totheextentofproviding(a)
theperiodwithinwhichapublicofficialshouldmakethedisclosureand(b)aspecification
ofcertainpublicofficialswhoareexemptedfromthesaidrequirement.

On 20 February 1989, R.A. 6713, otherwise known as the Code of Conduct and
EthicalStandardsforPublicOfficialsandEmployees,expandedthedisclosureobligation
by (a) specifically enumerating the information required to be disclosed as regards the
assets, liabilities, business interests and financial connections (b) requiring the
identification and disclosure of relatives in government (c) making the statements and
disclosuresavailableandaccessibletothepublicand(d)prohibitingcertainacts.

Even during the martial law years, all public employees were required to declare
[26]
theirassetsandliabilities,asmandatedbyPresidentialDecree(P.D.)No.379. Itwas
[27]
lateramendedbyP.D.417, enlargingthecoverageofthemandatorydisclosure.Itwas
[28]
furtheramendedbyP.D.555, providingforstifferpenaltiesfortheviolationthereof.

It is clear from these laws that it has been the thrust of the State to foster
transparency and accountability of public officers through the mandatory disclosures of
[29]
their assets and liabilities. Thus, in Office of the Court Administrator v. Usman, we
said:
From the foregoing, it is imperative that every public official or government
employee must make and submit a complete disclosure of his assets, liabilities and net
worth in order to suppress any questionable accumulation of wealth.This serves as the
basis of the government and the people in monitoring the income and lifestyle of
public officials and employees in compliance with the constitutional policy to
eradicatecorruption,topromotetransparencyingovernment,andtoensurethatall
governmentemployeesandofficialsleadjustandmodestlives,withtheendinview
of curtailing and minimizing the opportunities for official corruption and
maintainingastandardofhonestyinthepublicservice.

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In the present case, respondent clearly violated the abovequoted laws when he
failed to file his SALN for the years 20042008. He gave no explanation either why he
failed to file his SALN for five (5) consecutive years. While every office in the
government service is a public trust, no position exacts a greater demand on moral
righteousness and uprightness of an individual than a seat in the Judiciary. Hence,
judgesarestrictlymandatedtoabidewiththelaw,theCodeofJudicialConductand
with existing administrative policies in order to maintain the faith of our people in
theadministrationofjustice.(Emphasissupplied.)

Additionally, all Members of the judiciary are bound by the Code of Judicial
[30]
Conducttomakeafullfinancialdisclosure,asrequiredbylaw.

Further,andmoreimportantly,theChiefJustice,asanyotherpublicofficer,tooka
solemn oath of office, which he signed, and is couched, more or less in the following
language:

Akoaytaimtimnananunumpanatutuparinkonangbuonghusayatkatapatan,sa
abot ng aking kakayahan, ang mga tungkulin ng aking kasalukuyang katungkulan at ng
ibapangpagkaraannitoygagampanankosailalimngRepublikangPilipinasnaaking
itataguyod at ipagtatanggol ang Saligang Batas ng Pilipinas na tunay na mananalig at
tatalimaakoritonasusundinkoangmgabatas,mgakautusanglegal,atmgadekretong
pinaiiral ng mga sadyang itinakdang maykapangyarihan ng Republika ng Pilipinas at
kusakongbabalikatinangpananagutangitonangwalanganumangpasubaliohangaring
umiwas.
KasihannawaakongDiyos.

WhenapublicofficeraffixeshissignatureonhisOathofOffice,heembracesall
hisconstitutionalandstatutorydutiesasapublicofficer,oneofwhichisthepositiveduty
todiscloseallofhisassetsandliabilities.Thus,forallpublicofficers,whatisabsoluteis
nottheconfidentialityprivilege,buttheobligationofdisclosure.



Public Interest must be Held Paramount over
PrivateorEconomicConcerns


EvenifthisCourtweretoacceptthemistakenviewofpetitionersthattheyneedto

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secure a written consent to disclose the alleged FCD accounts, the circumstances of this
casewouldneverthelesswarranttheirexemptionfromtheconfidentialityruleofSec.8of
R.A.6426.

Petitioners, as well as the assailed Resolution, maintain that this Courts previous
[31]
rulings on the interpretation of Sec. 8 of R.A. 6426 are inapplicable, and they
stubbornly cling to the theory that the secrecy of FCDs is absolute. This erroneous
contentionbehoovesareviewofthesubjectjurisprudence,whichestablishestwosalient
points:(a)thelawwasenactedpurelyforeconomicconsiderations,and(b)theapplication
oftheconfidentialityprivilegeisnotabsolute.

[32]
InSalvacionv.CentralBankofthePhilippines, ChinaBankingCorporationv.
[33] [34]
CourtofAppeals, andGovernmentServiceInsuranceSystemv.CourtofAppeals,
thisCourtheldthatR.A.6426wasenactedinthemidstofafinancialdownturnasaresult
of the Martial Law years, when foreign investments were minimal. Thus, the legislation
soughttoaddressthiseconomictroughbyattractingFCDsthatcan,inturn,bechannelled
toloansandinvestmentsinthePhilippines.

More significantly, in Salvacion, this Court categorically established that the
prohibitionunderSec.8ofR.A.6426isnotabsolute.Inthatcase,thisCourtweighedthe
interestsofarapevictimandthoseoftheaccusedforeignerbydeterminingthehierarchy
ofinterestsinthiswise:

In fine, the application of the law depends on the extent of its justice.
Eventually,ifwerulethatthequestionedSection113ofCentralBankCircularNo.960
whichexemptsfromattachment,garnishment,oranyotherorderorprocessofanycourt,
legislativebody,governmentagencyoranyadministrativebodywhatsoever,isapplicable
toaforeigntransient,injusticewouldresultespeciallytoacitizenaggrievedbyaforeign
guestlike accusedGregBartelli. ThiswouldnegateArticle10oftheNewCivilCode
whichprovidesthat"incaseofdoubtintheinterpretationorapplicationoflaws,itis
presumedthatthelawmakingbodyintendedrightandjusticetoprevail.Ningunonon
deue enriquecerse tortizeramente con dano de otro. Simply stated, when the statute is
silentorambiguous,thisisoneofthosefundamentalsolutionsthatwouldrespondtothe
vehementurgeofconscience.(Padillavs.Padilla,74Phil.377).

Itwouldbeunthinkable,thatthequestionedSection113ofCentralBankNo.

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960 would be used as a device by accused Greg Bartelli for wrongdoing, and in so
doing,acquittingtheguiltyattheexpenseoftheinnocent.

Call it what it may but is there no conflict of legal policy here? Dollar against
Peso?UpholdingthefinalandexecutoryjudgmentofthelowercourtagainsttheCentral
BankCircularprotectingtheforeigndepositor?Shieldingorprotectingthedollardeposit
of a transient alien depositor against injustice to a national and victim of a crime? This
situationcallsforfairnessagainstlegaltyranny.

Wedefinitelycannothavebothwaysandrestinthebeliefthatwehaveserved
[35]
theendsofjustice. (Emphasissupplied.)

Similarly in the present case, this Court is faced with the task of balancing two
interplayinginterests.

Ontheonehandistheopinionofpetitionersthattheywillbeheldaccountablefor
criminal and administrative liability, should they follow the Subpoena issued by the
[36]
ImpeachmentCourt. They allege that Sec. 10 of R.A. 6426 provides that any wilful
violationofthelawshallexposethemtocriminalliabilityofimprisonmentofnotlessthan
one (1) year nor more than five (5) years or a fine of not less than five thousand pesos
(5,000), nor more than twentyfive thousand pesos (25,000), or both such fine and
imprisonmentatthediscretionofthecourt.TheyfurtherallegethattheBangkoSentralng
Pilipinas(BSP)mayalsorevokeorsuspendtheirauthoritytoacceptnewforeigncurrency
[37]
deposits,pursuanttothesecondparagraphofSec.87(1) oftheManualofRegulations
forForeignExchangeTransactions.

Ontheotherhandistheinterestofthepublicinensuringaccountabilityofpublic
officers.Withoutadoubt,thescaleofbalancemusttiltinfavorofpublicinterest.

First, the purpose of R.A. 6426 can never, even for the longest stretch of
imagination, defeat the purpose of the constitutionally established process of
impeachment.

As stated earlier, upon its passage, the purpose of R.A. 6426 was merely to
encourage foreign investments from foreign entities. It is therefore inconceivable to
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sacrificethepeopleswillexpressedintheConstitutioninfavorofaprivateinterest.

Second, petitioners presume that liability will automatically attach upon their
production of the alleged foreign currency deposit accounts, despite such compliance
being pursuant to a lawful order of the Impeachment Court. To say that they will
inevitably become criminally liable is to presume the filing of a Complaint for the
violationofR.A.6426.Thecontentionofpetitionersishighlyspeculativeandpreemptive.

AlsotenuousaretheirfearsthattheintrusionupontheFCDaccountsmaycausea
chillingeffectonotherbanksormaycauseabankrun.

PetitionershavenotdeniedlackofknowledgeofArt.11oftheRevisedPenalCode
that enumerates the justifying circumstances that would ultimately exculpate an accused
fromliability.Applicabletopetitionersisparagraph(6),towit:

Anypersonwhoactsinobediencetoanorderissuedbyasuperiorforsomelawful
purpose.

Thisprovisionalonerendersthefearsofpetitionersunfounded.Toinsistthatthey
willbeheldcriminallyliablefortheactsthatthesubpoenaorderedthemtodoistosay
that either the Impeachment Court is not a superior body, or that the impeachment
proceedingsarenotalawfulpurpose,orboth.

ThisparticularruleincriminallawwasbroughttotheattentionofpetitionerGarcia
bySenatorFrancisPangilinanduringtheimpeachmentproceedingson8February2012.

Art.11(6)wasagainexplainedbySenatorAlanPeterCayetanotopetitionerGarcia
thefollowingday.Inthecourseofhisquestioning,SenatorCayetanoaskedpetitionerif
the latter had read Salvacion. Petitioner Garcia replied, Yes. Later, while he was again
beingquestionedonthismatterbySenatorPiaCayetano,itwasevidentthatheknewthat
theCourtinSalvaciondidnotholdthebankemployeescriminallyliableforfollowingthe
lawfulorderofthecourt,sincehehimselfpointedoutthatthedisclosureinSalvacionwas

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pursuant to a lawful order of the court therein. Throughout the proceedings, petitioner
GarciarepeatedlyinformedtheImpeachmentCourtthathewasunderadviceofcounsel,
and that his options and the legal ramifications of the subpoena had sufficiently been
explained to him and to petitioner PS Bank. Petitioners cannot claim innocence or
ignoranceoftherulesoncriminalliability.

[38]
It is also noteworthy that in Estrada v. Desierto, this Court did not find any
graveabuseofdiscretionwhenthebankemployeesofCitibankwereabsolvedfromany
criminalliability,statingthus:

In dismissing petitioners complaint for Usurpation of Official Function against
privaterespondents,publicrespondentsreasoned

xxxxxxxxx

With the establishment of respondent Heftis authority in the
issuance of the constructive distraint, the subsequent act of respondent
Dagdag in serving the said distraint to the Citibank, as well as the act of
respondentsEquillosandAlbientoinwitnessingtheserviceofthesameto
thesaidbank,cannot(sic)beconstruedasactinagreementtocommitthe
crimeofUsurpationofAuthorityinthelightoftheforegoingdiscussion.

Thesamethingholdstruetothebankofficerswhoweremade
respondents in this case, considering that their act in informing
complainant regarding the existence of the constructive distraint as
well as in implementing the said distraint against the latters account
withthesaidbank,[were]merelyincompliancetoanorderissuedbya
competentauthority.(Emphasissupplied.)
xxxxxxxxx
We do not perceive any grave abuse of discretion on the part of the public
respondentswhentheyissuedtheaforecitedrulings.xxx(Emphasissupplied.)

Equally speculative is petitioners fear that PSBanks authority to operate an FCD


accountwillberevoked.

It must be emphasized that the Impeachment Court is a special accountability
mechanismreservedforthehighestofficialsoftheState:thePresident,theVicePresident,
theMembersoftheSupremeCourt,theMembersoftheConstitutionalCommissionsand
theOmbudsman.Itistheonlyprocessbywhichthepublic,representedbytheHouseof

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8/14/2015 G.R. No. 200238

Representatives,demandfromtheSenatetheprosecutionofpublicofficialsforculpable
violationoftheConstitution,treason,bribery,graftandcorruption,otherhighcrimes,or
betrayalofpublictrust.Thus,itisamethodofnationalinquestintotheconductofpublic
[39]
officers.

Granting the prayer of petitioners for injunctive relief is tantamount to endorsing


their position on absolute confidentiality, so much so that higher values, such as public
accountability,cannotevenbeconsideredasavalidexceptiontothesaidprivilege.This
contentionpushesthelawtoanabsurdity,astheadherencetothisabsolutiststanceinvites
unscrupulouspublicofficerstoconverttheirpesodepositstoforeigncurrencyaccountsin
ordertohidefromthelawandevadecriminalliability.Asaresult,R.A.6426isusedasa
shield to conceal malfeasance and other unlawful conduct. This Courts Resolution has
thereforecreatedasafehavenforcriminalactsandcultivatedanatmosphereofimpunity.
Certainly,thiswasnevertheintendmentofthelaw.


In the end, this Courts Resolution results in an iniquitous situation, where the
supremeinterestofthepublictomaintainaccountabilityamongpublicofficersisrelegated
to the sidelines in favor of a statutory privilege that arose purely out of economic
considerations. Considering that petitioners alleged entitlement to the injunctive relief is
basedonmerenewsreports,exaggeratedtheoriesofapossiblebankrun,orstubbornfears
ofculpability,thisCourthasnobasistoenjointheImpeachmentCourtfromexercisingits
constitutional mandate to require the production of documents and the rendering of
testimonybeforeitundertheassailedsubpoena.

Accordingly,IvotetoDENYtheapplicationforatemporaryrestrainingorder.

MARIALOURDESP.A.SERENO
AssociateJustice

[1]
AN ACT INSTITUTING A FOREIGN CURRENCY DEPOSIT SYSTEM IN THE PHILIPPINES, AND FOR OTHER
PURPOSES.
[2]
Foreign Currency Account Nos. 089191000373, 089131002826, 089141007129, 089141007469, and 089
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8/14/2015 G.R. No. 200238
141008145.
[3]
Art. XI, Sec. 2 of the 1987 Constitution enumerates the impeachable officers as the President, the VicePresident, the
fifteenmembersoftheSupremeCourt,thethreemembersoftheCivilServiceCommission,
thesevenmembersoftheCommissiononElection,thethreemembersoftheCommissionofAudit,andtheOmbudsman.
[4]
G.R.No.94723,343Phil.539(1997).
[5]
Petition,pp.1222.
[6]
SenateResolutiondated06February2012,pp.46.
[7]
Salvacionv.CentralBankofthePhilippines,343Phil.539(1997)ChinaBankingCorporationv.CourtofAppeals,G.R.
No.140687,18December2006,511SCRA110Ejercitov.Sandiganbayan,G.R.Nos.15729495,30November2006,509
SCRA190.
[8]
Petition,p.14.
[9]
Seenote3.
[10]
G.R.No.15729495,30November2006,509SCRA190.
[11]
487Phil.169(2004).
[12]
DuvazCorporationv.ExportandIndustryBank,G.R.No.163011,07June2007,523SCRA405.
[13]
G.R.No.106253,10February1994.
[14]
Seenote2.
[15]
Petition,p.7.
[16]
Peresus Escheminada, Disclosure in Due Time, Says CJ, Philippines Star, 12 February 2012,
http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=776250&publicationSubCategoryId=63(Lastvisited13February2012)
[17]
Marvin Sy, Corona SALN accurate defense, Philippine Star, 04 February 2012, http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?
articleId=774196&publicationSubCategoryId=63(Lastvisited10February2012).
[18]
Christina Mendez. What is 'public trust?', Philippine Star, http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?
articleId=774831&publicationSubCategoryId=63(Lastvisited10February2012).
[19]
1987CONSTITUTION,Art.VIIIJudicialDepartment:
Section4.(1)TheSupremeCourtshallbecomposedofaChiefJusticeandfourteenAssociateJustices.Itmaysiten
bancorinitsdiscretion,indivisionofthree,five,orsevenMembers.Anyvacancyshallbefilledwithinninetydaysfromthe
occurrencethereof.
[20]
Id.,Section5.
Section5.TheSupremeCourtshallhavethefollowingpowers:
(1) Exercise original jurisdiction over cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and over
petitionsforcertiorari,prohibition,mandamus,quowarranto,andhabeascorpus.
(2)Review,revise,reverse,modify,oraffirmonappealorcertiorari,asthelawortheRulesofCourtmayprovide,
finaljudgmentsandordersoflowercourtsin:
(a)All cases in which the constitutionality or validity of any treaty, international or executive agreement,
law,presidentialdecree,proclamation,order,instruction,ordinance,orregulationisinquestion.
(b)Allcasesinvolvingthelegalityofanytax,impost,assessment,ortoll,oranypenaltyimposedinrelation
thereto.
(c)Allcasesinwhichthejurisdictionofanylowercourtisinissue.
(d)Allcriminalcasesinwhichthepenaltyimposedisreclusionperpetuaorhigher.
(e)Allcasesinwhichonlyanerrororquestionoflawisinvolved.
(3) Assign temporarily judges of lower courts to other stations as public interest may require. Such temporary
assignmentshallnotexceedsixmonthswithouttheconsentofthejudgeconcerned.
(4)Orderachangeofvenueorplaceoftrialtoavoidamiscarriageofjustice.
(5) Promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights, pleading, practice, and
procedureinallcourts,theadmissiontothepracticeoflaw,theintegratedbar,andlegalassistancetotheunder
privileged.Suchrulesshallprovideasimplifiedandinexpensiveprocedureforthespeedydispositionofcases,
shallbeuniformforallcourtsofthesamegrade,andshallnotdiminish,increase,ormodifysubstantiverights.
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Rulesofprocedureofspecialcourtsandquasijudicialbodiesshallremaineffectiveunlessdisapprovedbythe
SupremeCourt.
(6)AppointallofficialsandemployeesoftheJudiciaryinaccordancewiththeCivilServiceLaw.
[21]
F.Mechem,ATREATISEONTHELAWOFPUBLICOFFICESANDOFFICER12.
[22]
Cornejov.Gabriel,41Phil.188(1920).
[23]
Pinedav.Claudio,28SCRA334(1969),138Phil.37.
[24]
63AAm.Jur.2d893895.
[25]
JoaquinG.Bernas,S.J.,THE1987CONSTITUTIONOFTHEREPUBLICOFTHEPHILIPPINESACOMMENTARY,
2003Ed.
[26]
Enactedon21January1974.
[27]
Enactedon19March1974.
[28]
Enactedon16September1974.
[29]
A.M.No.SCC0812,19October2011
[30]
Rule5.08.CODEOFJUDICIALCONDUCT.
[31]
Salvacionv.CentralBankofthePhilippines,343Phil.539(1997)ChinaBankingCorporationv.CourtofAppeals,G.R.
No. 140687, 18 December 2006, 511 SCRA 110 Government Service Insurance System v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No.
189206,08June2011,509SCRA190.
[32]
343Phil.539(1997).
[33]
G.R.No.140687,18December2006,511SCRA110.
[34]
G.R.No.189206,08June2011.
[35]
343Phil.559560(1997).
[36]
On p. 19 of the Petition, petitioners state: The Respondent Impeachment Court arbitrarily ignored Petitioners
ConstitutionalrighttolifeandpropertywhenitissuedAssailedSubpoenaforforeigncurrencydeposits.Petitionerswillclearly
incurcriminalliabilityforviolationofRA6426.
[37]
TheBSPmayrevokeorsuspendtheauthorityofabanktoacceptnewforeigncurrencydepositsforviolationofRepublic
ActNo.6426,asamended,ortheseregulations,orifsuchbankceasestopossesstheminimumqualificationsrequired.
[38]
Supranote11.
[39]
Hamilton, THE FEDERALIST PAPERS: No. 65, 07 March 1788, http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/fed65.asp,
(Lastvisited09February2012)

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