Ex-RCBC branch head seeks respite from Senate probe
Citing health problems, the former branch manager of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) embroiled in the alleged $81-million money laundering scheme is requesting through a counsel a weeklong respite from the Senate investigation.
Lawyer Rene Sagugisag said Maia Santos-Deguito, dismissed manager of RCBC branch on Jupiter Street, Makati City, might not be able to attend the resumption of the hearing of the Senate blue ribbon committee on Tuesday because of “health problems.”
“She has health problems in a situation full of stress and strain, since last February 9, allegedly of having knowledge that the P4 billion had been moved from banks in New York—scene of the original sin?—to the RCBC Main Office and finally her Jupiter Street branch, where it was remitted to parts of unknown,” Saguisag said in a statement that he intends to read before the committee.
A copy of the statement was furnished to Senate reporters on Monday. A staff member of Senator Teofisto Guingona III, chairman of the committee, said his office also received the same statement.
“Since then, she has been in rapid succession, suspended and now dismissed as branch manager, after grilling by bank officials; forcibly offloaded with her spouse and 10-year-old son from a Japan-bound plane minutes before [takeoff], her picture splashed on the front pages of every paper; summoned to testify here, and threatened with contempt; interrogated by 10 hardworking senators for two hours in executive session; charged and subjected to death threats, and now jobless, piled and dumped on,” Saguisag added.
Deguito, who was at the center of the controversy, had already appeared in the first two hearings conducted by the committee.
Saguisag said the former branch manager “begs on bended knees for a respite until after April 4.”
“After which, she commits dutifully to participate in further proceedings, expecting to regain her health and balance by then,” the lawyer said.
Besides, Saguisag said they are wondering what the committee still expects to hear from Deguito “without the benefit of warning on her right not to speak and sans negotiations for limited or qualified immunity as he arguably checked the Bill of Rights at the door.”
“In my limited experience in the US Senate in 1969-1970 while training in a Washington DC firm, Senate staff would contact the resource person on the central point and outer limits of the inquiry but these may be the subject of the wisdom of a new day,” he said.
During the committee’s last hearing on March 17, Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile threatened to cite Deguito in contempt for refusing to answer his questions.
The committee later decided to just hold an executive session to hear Deguito’s testimony. RAM
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