MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - The Senate, sitting as an impeachment court, has ordered Philippine Savings Bank President Pascual Garcia to explain why he should not be cited in contempt for not bringing the dollar bank accounts of Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Senator-judge Franklin Drilon made the proposal after Garcia revealed not bringing records of Corona's 5 dollar accounts.
Asked why he didn't bring the documents, Garcia said he could be criminally liable under Republic Act 6426 or the Foreign Currency Deposit Act. Under the law, a disclosure of foreign currency bank accounts can only be made upon written permission from the depositor.
Senator-judge Joker Arroyo, meanwhile, noted that his colleagues "seem to be in a hurry to crucify this witness."
“Here is a witness who came here in obedience to our subpoena...Look at this witness, is he acting in bad faith?”
He did not say whether his manifestation was an objection of sorts, saying: “The moment you speak here and you say something which might favor the respondent, you are pro-Corona. That is the problem, but I have to say it because we have at all times to observe the rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights. Every second of it can be availed of, whether a person is good or bad can avail of it.”
Garcia said he appeared, instead of the branch manager required in the subpoena, to assume the liabilities that may arise from the incident. “I, as President, has personally come, out of respect of the bank to the court and the importance of the proceedings.”
He said he owes it to the 2,693 employees of PSBank who are liable to their 600,000 depositors.
This, despite a petition this morning before the Supreme Court seeking a halt order on the impeachment body’s subpoenas.
What he revealed, instead, were information on five peso bank accounts that were subpoenaed too by the Senate.
Of the five peso accounts, however, only 2 were considered existing, at most until December 31, 2010.
The account 089-1210211681 had an end balance of P7,148,238.83 as of December 31, 2010.
Account 089-121019593 had an existing end balance of P8,500,000.00 as of December 31, 2009. As of December 31, 2010, the end balance showed P12,580,316.56.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile earlier asked the prosecution why they included several accounts that did not exist. “This presiding officer was the one who signed the subpoena. Where did you base your subpoena request which included unopened accounts? How did these accounts invent [themselves] to be presented on a request of the prosecution?”
Before private prosecutor Demetrio Custodio could answer, however, senator-judge Franklin Drilon took the floor and asked the circumstances behind account 089-1210211681.
After presenting the peso bank accounts, Garcia was asked by Custodio why he did not bring information on the other dollar accounts.
Custodio noted that the prosecution’s witness “failed to comply with the subpoena, and we invoke [that the Senate] take appropriate measures to enforce obedience.”