Despite poll pledge, Aquino not waiving secrecy rightBy DJ Yap, Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Malacañang dismissed suggestions that President Benigno Aquino III fullfil a campaign promise to waive his bank secrecy rights “at this time” the way impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona did last week.
“It is incumbent on all to recognize that it is Mr. Corona who is on trial,” Palace spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said over the weekend when asked to comment on reminders posted on online forums that Mr. Aquino had pledged to waive his rights under the bank secrecy laws and open his bank accounts to the public during the presidential campaign of 2010.
Lacierda said that asking Mr. Aquino to sign a waiver of his bank secrecy rights while the impeachment trial against Corona is going on was like lumping law-abiding public servants together with those who are being called to account for wrongdoing.
“To seek a waiver from the President at this time is to absolve those being held to account while those who comply are lumped together with those who are before the bar of justice,” Lacierda told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in a text message.
Neither will Mr. Aquino require his Cabinet to sign a waiver similar to that issued by Corona on Friday.
Undersecretary Abigail Valte, the deputy presidential spokesperson, said over state-run radio dzRB Sunday that waiving bank secrecy rights was a voluntary and personal decision.
“This issue of signing a waiver has cropped up before and the President’s reply was that it would be up to the individual Cabinet members … They’re the ones who were given the right. He’s not going to force them. That will be their personal decision,” she said.
Asked about the campaign promise, Lacierda said Mr. Aquino’s statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) already includes the mandatory waiver for the Ombudsman to obtain documents from the appropriate government agencies to verify the extent of his wealth.
“To those who are asking if the President will sign a waiver, for the record the President’s SALN has always been made public and it includes the mandatory waiver for the Ombudsman,” he said.