MANILA — Commenting on threats of prosecution against the media by the Binay’s camp, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima said the “media has every right to report” the freeze order on the assets of Vice President Jejomar Binay.
The freeze order was released on assets of Binay, his family and other individuals and companies connected him.
Binay’s lawyer, Carlo F. Certeza threatened to file a case against the media for publishing the freeze order.
He cited the confidentiality rule under the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001.
De Lima however said that she sees no violation on the media’s decision to report the freeze order.
“[Speaking] offhand, I don’t think there is a violation there,” the justice official said.
She added that the provision that Certeza was referring to was only applicable for entities like the banks and other financial institutions.
“I looked at the Anti-Money Laundering Act (Republic Act No. 9160), (and) the prohibition in that provision is only for… entities [like] the banks, financial institutions and insurance companies (reporting) on… suspicious transactions,” De Lima told reporters in an interview.
“The prohibition is anchored on practical purposes in the sense that… if the order is yet to be served, the subjects, particularly the respondents, should not know about it because they might do things like withdraw their money and close (their) bank accounts (in the) hope of (putting one) over the court,” she explained.
“What is clear is that when the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) is investigating internally, it’s confidential. In fact officers and personnel [of the council] are bound by the rule even before [the investigation is conducted]. Sharing information is not allowed. At that stage, there is a confidentiality rule,” she added.
She also said that after the freeze order has been issued, the media is no longer prohibited to report it.
“I don’t think the prohibition applies to reporting by media… especially (if there is a) freeze order. I think media has the right to report developments in the case. I’m not aware of any gag order issued,” De Lima said.
“Media has every right to report… I think jurisprudence is replete with [rulings] recognizing the right of the media to report on cases like that,” the justice official said.