Duterte ‘waiver’ ’empty,’ not valid — lawyer
The bank “waiver” being presented by presidential aspirant Rodrigo Duterte and his allies to show transparency is “empty” and invalid, a veteran law practitioner explained on Thursday.
“It is only a pledge to open their bank accounts,” said Raul Palabrica, a corporate lawyer, who writes about business-related issues in a column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Palabrica was asked to comment amid allegations by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV that Duterte did not declare P211 million in an account he kept at the Bank of Philippine Islands branch on Julia Vargas Avenue in Pasig City.
The bank account disproves Duterte’s claim that he was a poor man, said Trillanes, a vice presidential candidate who supports the candidacy of Senator Grace Poe.
Duterte and his allies responded by saying the presidential bet already signed a “waiver” on March 11, 2016, to show his transparency and that he was not hiding anything.
In an interview, Palabrica said the document, a picture of which came out in the Inquirer on April 28, was not a waiver for opening bank accounts.
The document states: “We the candidates for president and vice president in the 2016 national election, hereby pledge to open all our bank accounts in local and foreign currencies both here and abroad in the interest of transparency and accountability.”
Palabrica pointed out, “A waiver has to be expressed and specific. And it is directed to a particular bank or person.”
He explained, “What is being waived here is a right of privacy. And a right of privacy is considered sacred. Therefore any exception to the rule of the right of privacy must be clear and unequivocal.”
Such privacy is protected under Republic Act 1405, or the Bank Secrecy Law.
Palabrica noted that “to meet the requirements of the Bank Secrecy Law, (a waiver) should be first: written. It should be addressed to the bank. And it should be told to the bank what exactly (is being waived).”
“Example,” he continued, “the letter should say:
“To whom it may concern:
“To all BPI offices:
“I, (name of person waiving privacy), hereby waive my right to secrecy in all bank accounts and all financial records I have with you.
“This waiver and/or authority shall remain valid and binding until I overrule or set it aside.”
It should be signed by the person waiving bank secrecy, Palabrica stressed.
Lacking these elements, the “waiver” signed by Duterte and Cayetano is “empty,” the lawyer said.
Palabrica said that if Duterte wanted to prove that the allegations of Trillanes were false and the purported BPI account was fabricated, he should give the senator a true waiver.
The lawyer said, “The best way to prove it is fabricated (is) I will give him my authority: ‘Here, go to BPI.’ And BPI comes back and says: ‘We wish to inform you that Mr. Duterte does not have any account.’”
“Balik ako ngayon at isasampal ko sa mukha ni Trillanes: Heto, what you said is a fabrication,” (I will then go back and slap it on the face of Trillanes: Here, what you said is a fabrication) Palabrica said.