Trillanes Exposes that Duterte Has 200Million in a BPI Bank Account
As the nation ambles closer to election day, TV5 plunged supporters of aspirant Duterte to dismay with reports of a scathing Trillanes expose. CNN elaborates the Senator’s revelation: Duterte holds over 200 Million in bank deposits, particularly the Julia Vargas branch at Ortigas.
To confirm the existence of such account, journalist Ellen Tordesillas explained that an associate went to the said BPI branch and deposited P500 to said account. The funds went into account number 002433-0695-39, indicating the existence of said account which was allegedlt held by Rodrigo Roa Duterte jointly with his daughter Sarah Z. Duterte.
For Senator Trillanes, said accounts were not declared by Duterte which is a violation of the law.
The failure to properly file a SALN is one disturbing issue. But a more pressing matter is how the good Senator arrived at his conclusions – and whether this poses severe economic ramifications.
Was the Revelation by Senator Trillanes Legal?
The secrecy of financial instruments are protected by RA 1405 which prohibits wanton inquiry into deposits.
REPUBLIC ACT NO.1405
SECTION 2. All deposits of whatever nature with banks or banking institutions in the Philippines including investments in bonds issued by the Government of the Philippines, its political subdivisions and its instrumentalities, are hereby considered as of an absolutely confidential nature and may not be examined, inquired or looked into by any person, government official, bureau or office, except upon written permission of the depositor, or in cases of impeachment, or upon order of a competent court in cases of bribery or dereliction of duty of public officials, or in cases where the money deposited or invested is the subject matter of the litigation.
SECTION 3. It shall be unlawful for any official or employee of a banking institution to disclose to any person other than those mentioned in Section two hereof any information concerning said deposits.
Let’s dig deeper into the quandary that the Senator now finds himself in.
- Candidate Duterte is protected by RA 1405. Unless he waives his right to accorded under the law, no man can inquire into his accounts.
- Trillanes, in a press conference, challenged Duterte to sign the waiver of protection under Bank Secrecy at BPI Julia Vargas branch on Monday of May 2, 2016
- Duterte countered the Senator and required that the latter file an affidavit under oath stating where and when he got the information and for what purpose he executed the same as precondition for the disclosure of deposits under scrutiny.
Duterte is quoted as saying, “I have a message for Trillanes: marami akong deposito sa iba’t ibang bangko, but I will ask him to make a statement under oath, affidavit, saan niya nakuha ang impormasyon na ‘yan, kailan, for what purpose, and how was it. File siya ng kaso, buksan ko ‘yan.”
The Legal Issues:
- Whether or not Trillanes falsified public documents to support his allegations that Duterte holds 200 Million in deposits. Recall that RA 1405 requires a court order to divulge any details pertaining to bank deposits.
- Whether or not Trillanes exploited genuine bank documents to support his assertions on the Duterte millions. In this case , Sen Trillanes may have derogated RA1405 as not even the President can obtain financial documents without a court order or AMLA intervention.
The End Game
Sen. Trillanes faces a dire quandary and he may have been outfoxed by a strategic statesman. Let us look at his alternatives.
- If the Senator complies with the affidavit request, and he did use fake documents,he will be guilty of perjury under oath. The affidavit is evidence that he falsified public documents which is a crime.
- Now if Trillanes used genuine bank documents, his affidavit under oath will affirm that he violated the bank secrecy law to obtain said documents. Only a judge can order the release of financial instruments.
Either action taken by Sen Trillanes opens him to prosecution. However, the perjury and violation of Bank Secrecy may be the least of his concerns. Bank officials representing BPI claim that charges of grave business sabotage may be filed if it turns out that fake documents had been used:
“The effect of this issue to the bank is massive and could not be ignored. Since Duterte has already instructed his lawyer to open his bank account on Monday in front of Trillanes, I think he, (Trillanes) will be in serious trouble with the BPI. Trillanes can face multiple charges over business sabotage and defamation.,” Juson said.