Senators zero in on BSP examiner as behind leak of Corona bank records | Inquirer News

Senators zero in on BSP examiner as behind leak of Corona bank records

By: - Reporter / @KatyYam
/ 01:33 AM March 02, 2012

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile. INQUIRER file photo

Senators consider a bank examiner of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) who participated in a regular audit of Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank) in late 2010 as the possible leak of the photocopy of Chief Justice Renato Corona’s signature card that House prosecutors want to use as evidence in his impeachment trial.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said he “could not think of any other person” aside from BSP examiner Jerry Leal as the culprit, especially after the latter finally admitted yesterday at the second hearing of the Senate committee on banks, financial institutions and currencies that he was presented a photocopy of Corona’s signature card during a BSP audit of the PSBank on Nov. 25, 2010.


Leal earlier insisted at Monday’s hearing that he “never saw Corona’s signature card” and that it was never presented to him during the final exit conference between BSP representatives and PSBank officials.


The examiner took this line despite the insistence of PSBank president Pascual Garcia III that Leal even instructed BSP examiner in charge Elmer Damasco in an e-mail dated Nov. 24, 2010 to get Corona’s records and those of seven other PSBank depositors.

Garcia reiterated before senators yesterday that since PSBank was furnished a copy of the e-mail, it had to comply with the instruction and provide BSP examiners with the records of these individuals.

Like a butterfly

Enrile said Leal’s belated inquiry into Corona’s records at the homestretch of the BSP audit was suspect.

This is because Leal admitted during the first hearing that he asked for the identification records of 112 specific “high volume” depositors from different branches of PSBank when the audit was conducted from September to November 2010.


In a posthearing interview, Enrile hinted that a government official “not in the Cabinet” was also a holder of Corona’s signature card.

Pressed to give more information, the Senate President said: “Ha-ha-ha. Stop it.”  Still, he described this official as “parang paru-parong bukid (butterfly).”

Asked by reporters whether he thought Leal was the sole source of the leak, Enrile said: “I could not think of any other. Who else?”

Talkative, evasive

Enrile added that Leal’s behavior Thursday indicated he was lying. “Talking a lot indicates one is lying.”

The Senate President said he observed that Garcia, on the other hand, was candid and willing to reveal details about the 2010 audit during the hearing yesterday.

Senator Sergio Osmeña, the chairman of the committee, noted that Leal appeared evasive and “avoided answering questions directly.”

Added Osmeña: “If you’re lying in one, you could be lying in other things and that is a rule that ‘falsus in unum, falsus in omnibus.’” If (Leal) was the source of the copy, he could have volunteered it.”

Osmeña and Enrile said that should it be proven that House prosecutors had obtained their photocopy of Corona’s signature card from Leal, this would not be considered “fruit of the poisonous tree” if admitted as evidence.

The two senators refused to explain how this would be so during their separate talks with reporters.

The Senate President said this would be justified when the time comes for the impeachment court to make a ruling.


Based on the photocopy of Corona’s bank documents, the prosecution got a subpoena from the impeachment court to compel PSBank officials to testify at the hearing, which found that the Chief Justice had kept five accounts in PSBank that contained at least P24.6 million between 2007 and 2010.

Using the testimony of the PSBank president, a PSBank branch manager and a manager of Bank of Philippines Islands (BPI), the prosecution claimed that Corona had P31.75 million in deposits in two PSBank accounts and one BPI account, but the Chief Justice declared only P3.5 million in cash and investments in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth.


Observers noted that after Enrile moved to cite Leal in contempt for lying, the BSP examiner appeared nervous and immediately volunteered to submit an affidavit that he prepared in anticipation of questions that would be asked of him.

Enrile dismissed Leal’s sworn statement as “trash,” adding that he believed Leal may have acted along with other individuals. “Let’s see if he would be like a singing canary. Probably there are others.”

Enrile said it was possible that Leal was part of a group because a photocopy of Corona’s signature card reached the secretariat of House prosecutors tasked with pinning down the Chief Justice for betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution.

“Why did (Quezon City Representative Jorge ‘Bolet’) Banal get a copy? I know there are others who also possess that,” he said.

Banal visit

Some weeks back, the PSBank manager of the Katipunan branch, Annabelle Tiongson, said she was shocked when Banal visited her in the office and showed her what appeared to be a photocopy of Corona’s signature card.

While she later told the impeachment court that Banal’s photocopy “seems fake,” she still alerted PSBank officials about the incident.

This prompted Garcia to order the transfer of Corona’s records from Katipunan in Quezon City to the head office in Makati City for safekeeping.

5 years in prison

Enrile said Leal and his cohorts could be sentenced to five years in prison if it was proven that they violated the Bank Secrecy Act, which prohibits the disclosure of a depositor’s records.

The Senate President said it “would have been OK” for Leal to examine Corona’s records in fulfillment of his job “but Leal should not have released the details.”

Osmeña, however, said that the two hearings so far had not yet established that Leal was the source of the leak.

“What was established was that (Leal) had seen the signature card but it was not established he brought it out with him. He had access to it … He was in possession but he did not admit he gave a copy to anybody,” the senator said.

Osmeña said members of the committee on banks would meet Monday to discuss the penalty for Leal.

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He suggested in jest that the BSP examiner be forced to listen to audiotapes of senators’ speeches while confined in the Senate stockade until he volunteered to tell the truth.

TAGS: Judiciary, Politics, Renato Corona, Senate, Supreme Court

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