Thursday, 07 June 2012 13:58
LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… and the truth shall make you free…” (Jesus Christ, our God and Savior, in John 8:32, the Holy Bible).
DOES AMLC HAVE THE POWER TO RELEASE CORONA’S RECORD? The question that must be answered by Executive Director Vicente Aquino of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) is this: does the Council have the power to release to the Ombudsman the “electronically-transmitted” bank records of ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona even without a court order?
Yes, Aquino may argue that the Council did not really inquire into Corona’s bank records because the bank themselves transmitted those records to the Council, so that it could not be considered as having violated the anti-money laundering law. But then, just to pursue the point: does Republic Act 9160, as amended by Republic Act 9194, allow the Council to release to the Ombudsman those records even without a court order?
IMPLEMENTING RULES BAR AMLC DISCLOSURES: To answer this question, let us look into the “Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations on RA No. 9160, as amended by RA No. 9194”, which was approved on August 6, 2003 by the Joint Senate and House of Representatives Congressional Oversight Committee, to implement those two laws.
My Internet research showed, first of all, that this set of “revised implementing rules and regulations” was signed by Senators Ramon Magsaysay Jr., Francis Pangilinan, Renato Cayetano, Robert Barbers, Vicente Sotto III, Edgardo Angara and Sergio Osmena, and by Representatives Jaime Lopez, Oscar Moreno, Marcelino Libanan, Teodoro Locsin Jr., Jose Carlos Lacson, Celso Lobregat and Didagen Dilangalen.
Now the question: is there any part of this set of rules which pertains to whether the AMLC and its officers can disclose any information known to them by reason of their office to anyone, including the Ombudsman?
Yes, there is, but contrary to what the AMLC did in furnishing the Ombudsman with its record of Corona’s bank transactions, this part of the rules actually prohibits AMLC and its officers from disclosing any information known by them by reason of their office!
RULE IMPOSES PERPETUAL BAR FOR AMLC DISCLOSURES: The rule is Rule 8.4 of the “Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations on RA No. 9160, as amended by RA No. 9194”, which imposes confidentiality of all information known to AMLC members and officers. Here is what Rule 8.4 says:
“Rule 8.4. Confidentiality Provisions. - The members of the AMLC, the Executive Director, and all the members of the Secretariat, whether permanent, on detail or on secondment, shall not reveal, in any manner, any information known to them by reason of their office. This prohibition shall apply even after their separation from the AMLC. In case of violation of this provision, the person shall be punished in accordance with the pertinent provisions of the Central Bank.”
Quite clearly, the intention of this set of rules, passed and approved by senators and congressmen themselves, is to perpetually prohibit any member of the Council, its executive director and all members of the secretariat, from revealing any information known to them by their office. Can we consider AMLC’s furnishing the Ombudsman of electronic records sent by the banks to AMLC showing Corona’s dollar and peso transactions a violation of this rule?
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by Atty. Batas Mauricio
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