Prosecution: Bank records are not fake just because manager said soBy Cynthia D. Balana
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The prosecution panel insists it did not violate the bank secrecy law when it attached allegedly “fake” bank documents of Chief Justice Renato Corona to its request for a supplemental subpoena to the Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank)-Katipunan branch last February 3.
In its 14-page compliance with the order of the impeachment court to explain why it attached the said “fake” documents as declared by branch manager Annabel Tiongson, the chief prosecutor, Representative Niel Tupas Jr., said it would be too early to conclude that the documents were indeed fake just because Tiongson said so.
He said “in the interest of fair play, it is imperative that the assailed documents be compared with the original bank records to settle once and for all the authenticity or falsity of the subject document.”
Tupas said the inspection and scrutiny would not violate the rule on confidentiality because it would not inquire into the contents of the accounts but merely the authenticity of the documents.
He said that assuming that there was a violation of the confidentiality of bank deposits, the issue of liability should be threshed out in another forum, not the impeachment court.
Also, if the documents proved to be authentic, the persons liable would be the official custodians of the documents, which is PSBank-Katipunan branch and not the parties to the impeachment proceedings.
Tupas stressed that Tiongson had actually clarified that she cannot confirm or deny the existence or authenticity of Annexes A to A-4 because these documents have information on dollar accounts, which are covered by the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court.
Similarly, during the questioning of Tiongson by Senator Francis Escudero, her legal counsel said that Tiongson cannot confirm or deny whether Annexes A to A-4 were the “exact replica” of PSBank documents, because of her belief that it would be akin to disclosing information on the dollar accounts therein, according to Tupas.
Thus, Tiongson’s statement was not clear whether prosecution’s Annexes A to A-4 were “fake” or “forged” documents, Tupas stressed.
“It now appears that she merely refuses to confirm or deny the authenticity of the documents because of her belief that to do so would lead to the disclosure of information on dollar accounts,” Tupas said.
He pointed out that PSBank President Pascual Garcia III never declared in his testimony on February 9 that Annexes A to A-4 were outright false documents or not documents of the bank, but merely mentioned that there were “discrepancies” or “differences” when compared to the originals (which have not yet been brought to court).
10 accounts confirmed
Tupas said it would be difficult, if not impossible, to verify the authenticity of Annexes A to A-4 unless PSBank will be ordered to produce for inspection all the opening documents, including the Customer Identification and Specimen Signature Cards, for all of the respondent’s peso and dollar accounts with PSBank.
“Only then will the court be able to determine whether Annexes A to A-4 correspond to the documents on record with PSBank,” Tupas said. “Only then will the honorable impeachment court be able to make a comparison to determine if Annexes A to A-4 are photocopies or reproductions of originals existing in the records of PS Bank.”
Tupas said the 10 accounts identified in Annexes A to A-4 were already confirmed to be existing by no less than Garcia himself. He said even the defense admitted the existence of the dollar accounts by undertaking to open them “in due time.”