Santiago warns against exposing Corona bank accounts
MANILA, Philippines—Prying open Chief Justice Renato Corona’s bank accounts as part of the evidence in his impeachment trial may scare away investors and have “devastating” effects on the economy, Senator Miriam Santiago said Wednesday.
At a press conference away from the impeachment court, Santiago warned that breaking the bank secrecy law and exposing Corona’s bank accounts in a public trial could spell trouble for the country’s economy.
“The danger I see is that potential bank investors in the Philippines will withdraw their deposits and transfer them to Singapore, which is now beginning to be known as the Switzerland of Asia, because their security procedures are so airtight that there is almost absolute confidentiality about accounts,” said Santiago.
Santiago, who has been absent from the trial because of high blood pressure, filed on Monday a motion asking the Senate to reconsider a decision granting a prosecution request to subpoena documents and officials of the Philippine Savings Bank and the Bank of the Philippine Islands to testify on Corona’s bank accounts.
The Senate, sitting as impeachment court, on Wednesday threw out Santiago’s motion.
“If we develop this reputation that even the Chief Justice can have his bank accounts opened with mere allegation without more proof, [it] might already be sufficient to drive away the capital market from our country,” said Santiago.
“And we are badly in need of capital investors. The effect on our economy would be devastating. I’m very afraid that there might be bank runs. It doesn’t concern middle class people like you and me but it concerns the upper class people, who are real movers and shakers in the society,” she added.
She spoke to reporters at noon Wednesday after delivering a speech at the joint convention of the Philippine Society of Hypertension and the Philippine Lipid and Atherosclerosis Society at the Crowne Plaza Galleria.
In her speech, Santiago criticized her colleagues in the Senate and members of House prosecuting the case, joking at one point that some in the impeachment court had brains like “one-celled amoeba.”
She scored lawmaker-prosecutors for being unprepared for trial, saying “they want to do everything themselves in front of the cameras.”
Of her fellow senators, Santiago said: “As in the case of the representatives, many senators also lack the requisite experience, expertise or training to deal competently with impeachment matters.”