MANILA — The Supreme Court (SC) en banc has ordered the (AMLC) to explain on its move to examine the bank accounts of Vice President Jejomar Binay along with his family members and his lawyers.
The AMLC investigation led to the issuance by the Court of Appeals (CA) of a freeze order over the assets of Binays group.
In a one-page resolution, the SC en banc ordered the AMLC to submit its comment within a period of 10 days on the petition filed by the lawyers of the Vice President, the Subido Pagente Certeza Mendoza and Binay (SPCMB) Law Office.
The SPCMB Law Office was the law firm where Binay’s daughter, Makati City Rep. Mar-len Abigail Binay, is a former partner.
The resolution was signed and promulgated by Clerk of Court of the SC en banc Atty. Enriqueta E. Vidal.
The ruling was made without giving due course to the petition and its prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO).
“Acting on the Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition (with Extremely Urgent Application for Issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order and/or Writ of Preliminary Injunction), the Court Resolved, without giving due course to the petition, to require the respondents to Comment thereon within 10 days from notice hereof,” the resolution said.
Also named respondents to the case are Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Gov. Amando Tetangco, Jr., Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairperson Teresita Herbosa and Insurance Commission head Emmanuel Dooc.
They are the current members of the AMLC.
Binay’s law firm has been involved into the controversy on the corruption allegations against Vice President Binay and his family members to stop the investigation of their bank accounts.
In a 44-page petition for certiorari and prohibition filed on March 11, 2015, the SPCMB Law firm, representing Binay and one of his close allies and alleged dummy, businessman Antonio Tiu, asked the SC to stop the AMLC from continuing with the examination of SPCMB Law’s bank accounts.
Tiu was accused as a dummy of the Binays after he claimed ownership over the so-called “Hacienda Binay” in Rosario, Batangas.
The SPCMB Law firm asked SC to declare unconstitutional the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA), in so far as it allows the examination of bank accounts “in any way related to a money laundering offense” without giving notice to the respondent(s).
It conceded that Section 11 of Republic Act No. 9160, or the “Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001”, “does not specifically provide said right [to due process]” and “does not provide any remedy… to contest the application and subsequent issuance of an order granting application to examine bank accounts.”
The SPCMB Law firm argued that its rights to privacy and due process were violated by the AMLC and CA, as well as its lawyer-client privilege.
It asked the SC to stop the AMLC’s examination of its bank accounts and stop the AMLC and CA from “using, citing, divulging or in any manner invoking” any and all information already obtained pertaining to the law firm’s bank accounts, and thereby declare “any and all information, data, records, or transactions obtained through this unlawful examination are deemed inadmissible in any and all proceedings.”
The SPCMB Law firm said that the CA has denied its request for copies of the AMLC’s Ex-parte Application for the Issuance of an Order Allowing Inquiry into or Examination of Bank Accounts after stating that it is a confidential proceeding in the appellate court.
The CA, through Presiding Justice Andres Reyes, Jr., told the SPCMB Law firm on Feb. 27, 2015 that it may not accede to the request because of the “strict confidentiality” of petitions of this nature, as mandated under the Anti-Money Laundering Act.
The petition said that the AMLC and the CA are now doing a “fishing expedition” with the Binays and the SPCMB Law firm.
“The nature of the lawyer-client relationship prohibits petitioner SPCMB Law from disclosing matters that are revealed or otherwise made known to them by its clients,” it added.