Sandiganbayan OKs prosecution’s bid to access Corona bank accounts » Manila Bulletin News

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By Czarina Nicole Ong

The Sandiganbayan Second Division has allowed the prosecution to probe the bank accounts of the late Chief Justice Renato Corona involving the ongoing forfeiture case against his alleged unlawfully acquired properties under Republic Act1379.

Facade of Sandiganbayan building in Quezon City
(Manila Bulletin file photo)

In a seven-page resolution promulgated on October 23 by Associate Justice Oscar Herrera and concurred by Associate Justices Michael Frederick Musngi and Lorifel Pahimna, the court decided to go back on its earlier ruling allowing Corona’s wife, Cristina, to dismiss the subpoenas issued by the Office of the Ombudsman seeking to peruse their bank records.

Prosecutors are hoping to forfeit Corona’s assets amounting to P131 million. On April 28, 2016, the court junked the motion for subpoena, explaining that it had to be impartial to the case. The subpoenas were intended for documents and officials from Allied Banking Corporation, Land Bank of the Philippines, Deutsche Bank and PSBank.

“The Court does not discount the danger that the subpoenaed bank officials may be misled, not to say deluded, into believing the Court has countenanced or tolerated any possible infraction of the policy on secrecy of bank deposition,” the court ruled then.

The prosecution filed a motion for reconsideration, and explained that the subpoenas were part of the procedure for examining its witnesses. In the end, the court decided to reconsider and set aside its earlier ruling.

The court considered RA 6770, which states that the Office of the Ombudsman shall have powers to subpoena “and take testimony in any investigation or inquiry, including the power to examine and have access to bank accounts and records.”

For the court, this trumps the exemption made by RA 6426, which seeks to protect foreign currency deposits.

“In any event, RA   6770, the Ombudsman Act of 1989, grants the Ombudsman, its investigators and prosecutors the authority to issue subpoena and subpoena duces tecum, or make an application for the issuance of such subpoenas before the Sandiganbayan,” the resolution reads.

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