Press Release
May 15, 2012


ANC interview

ANC: ... He said these are just bloated figures. How accurate?

Serge: Tama 'yun, these guys are just playing a propaganda, like in the Land Registration snafu. Originally they said the Chief Justice, who is the respondent in this trial, had 45 properties and then it turned out to be only 21. Big deal... Ang sinasabi po ng prosecution, whether this is $12 million or $1 million, lumabas ba sa Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth ni Chief Justice? Eh wala na. So, even if it's just a million dollars, that's enough to find him guilty of violating the law on the disclosure of assets.

ANC: The Chief Justice is an intelligent man. Do you really think that he would be careless enough to put all of these accounts under his name?

Serge: Well, you know, in every crime, there is usually a mistake that is made. And the prosecutors have been able to point several mistakes. Essentially, the speculation is that, he felt that the FCDU law would be sufficient to protect assets that he held in foreign currency to be exempt from investigation. However, it seems that he did sign a waiver when he filed his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Networth, that the Ombudsman would be able to inquire from any government agency assets that he held. And that is what happened in his case.

ANC: The defense lawyers argued yesterday that if there was indeed information that was passed on by the AMLC to the Ombudsman, this information was passed on without a court order. And the issue here, of course, is that if the Ombudsman can get information from the AMLC without a court order in the case of Chief Justice Corona, then of course, this is something that the Ombudsman can do with just about any government official, and investigate them...

Serge: Well, I have 2 questions to ask then. What's wrong with that? He's not supposed to be able to hide any assets. We have very strict laws on bank secrecy, we have even a stricter law on the foreign currency deposits, and almost just as strict the Anti-Money Laundering Act. Pero ang sinasabi naman ng mga iba, bakit nila tinatago? They're hiding behind the law, rather than abiding by the spirit of the law, which is disclosure. So, kapag sinasabi po ng iba na 'Hindi pala $12 million,' eh ano ba, $9M? Okay na ba 'yun? O $5 million? Is that okay if you only have $5 million? It's still a violation of the law.

Now, it's unfortunate because yes, there are still gray areas, there are overlaps, but tama po ang sinasabi ninyo that the AMLC is not supposed to disclose unless there is a court order. However, meron pong opinyon 'yung AMLC that the Council itself gave the green-light to Vic Aquino, the Executive Director of the Anti-Money Laundering Council, that he is allowed by law to disclose to the Ombudsman the assets of Justice Corona and others. And then there's also an opinion from the Department of Justice, the secretary of justice, that it is within the law to disclose it to the Ombudsman. So, this is a question of law that would be debated this afternoon.

ANC: Great point that you pointed out, what's wrong with that... What's wrong with the Ombudsman having access to the accounts of government officials and making them accountable even without a court order. But with the current law in place, do you think that there's really a need to revise the law?

Serge: Yes. I think that there has to be some harmonization of laws, and I am working on that now. There's the Bank Secrecy law, the FCDU, the Anti-Money Laundering law, and the Assets and Liabilities, which is the disclosure, which is our Code of Ethics.

ANC: What's going to happen today?

Serge: You better ask the prosecution, or the defense. We're judges here, and we are tied to our seats and listen to whatever they said. I am just predicting na magkakaroon ng debate on points of law kasi maraming gray areas between different laws that are being utilized either to defend or prosecute during this trial.

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