May 17, 2012
Transcript of Senator Drilon's Headstart interview with Karen Davila
Q: Did you expect the Defense to call the Ombudsman as a witness?
Drilon: I did not expect this. In the first place, I didn't know why the Defense called the Ombudsman; I could not figure it out. As the Senate President has kept on repeating yesterday, the Ombudsman was a witness of the Defense. So, I was surprised.
Q: So, tell me, describe how you felt with what the Ombudsman presented?
Drilon: Well, it was, as many describe it was mind boggling. I find it difficult to follow given the number of accounts the Ombudsman presented. Mahirap talagan intindihin.
Q: Now, describe why the account, it seems (unclear), what could have been happening to those transactions? Is he a professional money launderer as commented by Congressman Tupas?
Drilon: In a banking transaction, if you keep some funds in the bank, usually the bank would assign an account manager. Now, you place, let's say P5 million in the money market place; when the money is placed in the money market place, an account is created and you sign the signature card or other documents to evidence the deposit. That becomes your main account.
Q: In any bank?
Drilon: In any bank. That becomes your main account. That is where your signature card is found. Of course, that particular number. Now, you place P5 million there, let's say, and then you place it for 30 days. Afterwards, the account manager will call you: "Sir, would you like to place it to, let's say, special deposit account?" So, when you say yes, an amount of, let's say, P2.5 million is removed from that mother account and is placed in another account. It becomes a special deposit account (SDA) that is not allowed by the BSP. You do not even know the account number that is assigned. Neither would you sign any index card or signature card because that comes from a main account and another account is created for P2.5 million out of the original P5 million. Now, the moment that placement matures, then the amount goes back to the main account. Then, if you put in, let's say, higher yielding deposit; again, another account is created. So, that is why if you recall the presentation of the Ombudsman, there were arrows going in and out. It is possible that the number, theoretically, in year, there can be 12 other accounts created if you renew it every 30 days.
Q: Is it money market place?
Drilon: That's correct. You don't even know the number. You don't even sign deposit slip card, whatever they call it, where all your circumstances are indicated. When your fund manager tells you: "We will place it in high yielding account," when you said "yes" another account will be created. You don't even know the number so as I said it will mature for days, after 30 days it will go back to the mother account. So, after an hour, you place it back again, another account is created. So, in one year, theoretically you can have 12 accounts. That is why there are ins and outs as demonstrated in the chart (presentation of the Ombudsman).
Q: How do we connect those information for the public and the judges to make a decision, given that in the beginning, the PSBank President himself admitted that there were dollar accounts but he could not discuss what is inside the account? Were there five dollar accounts, if I remember correctly, that were presented in that particular exhibit?
Drilon: You're correct, Karen. Alright, let's put it in context because so many things have happened and we may have forgotten. First, let us not forget that the issue that is in the complaint is non-reporting of assets in the SALN. That is the issue, Article II. So, the prosecution is proving in the course of its presentation of those relevant years, there were assets not reported. So, that should be the context now. We go now to the PSBank. PSBank said there were five dollar accounts; he confirmed that these were existing, but he said they were prohibited by Bank Secrecy Deposits Law from revealing the dollar account. In fact, they went up to the SC to get a TRO preventing the Senate from looking into these accounts. So, there were two things here. First, the existence of these accounts; number two, how much do these accounts contain. Now, the first issue, this is admitted and established that these accounts exist; and the amounts contained therein should have been reported, per the theory of the prosecution, at yearend of that particular year when it existed as part of the assets of CJ Corona.
Drilon: Now, what happened afterwards? Ombudsman Morales presented the AMLC records which was marked exhibit 11-Ws. Now, what was that exhibit? The exhibit is a copy of the AMLC records just raw records. No analysis. It is just the name of the depositor, the account numbers, the nature of the transactions, the denomination, and the amounts. So, why was it in the AMLC records? The records are there because under the law the bank is required to submit a record of any transaction beyond P500,000. So, all your transactions, whether you are a drug lord or a TV announcer; no conclusion is drawn from that; it is just an automatic report. There is no suspicious transaction that is generated out of that. The records are there, all are banking transactions beyond P500,000. So, that is what the Ombudsman asked for from the AMLC by virtue of her powers under the Constitution and by virtue of the power of the SALN which we signed as a public official. There is a waiver there which authorized the Ombudsman to look into all government records. "I Hereby authorize the Ombudsman to obtain and secure from all appropriated agencies such documents that may show my assets, liabilities, net worth and business interest and financial connections, to include those of my spouse and unmarried children below 18 years old living with me in my household covering past years to include the year I first assumed office in government. So, on the basis of this, this is an authority that we signed as public official and also on the basis of the Ombudsman. I haven't seen it but I understand that as early as 2004, during the time of the past administration a legal opinion was rendered by the Solicitor-General which sustained this authority and authorized the Ombudsman to look into account. So, there is a legal basis.
Q: Does the Ombudsman need to respond to a complaint or can she do it on her own?
Drilon: She can do it on her own. She can do it on the basis of our interview here and commence her own investigation. In fact, as a matter of practice, the Ombudsman would monitor hearings of the Blue Ribbon Committee and officially would ask for the records of the Senate of the investigation and start an investigation. So, what has happened? When this was presented, there were entries here, in particular, the dollar accounts which have already been established on the record.
Q: A lot of people were surprised and impressed that you were able to contextualize - people may have forgotten - that the accounts were there in the AMLA.
Drilon: Yes, that's correct. Let's focus on one specific account. Here is the report of AMLC, name Renato Coronado Corona.
Q: Would the AMLC make a mistake of different Renato Corona?
Drilon: Well, there can be several Karen Davilas, but I do not know if there are two Renato Coronado Coronas which is exactly his name. The account number is 019191000373, this account number was confirmed by the PSBank as an account of CJ Corona. Now, there is a transaction here dated October 31, 2008 and the deposit was made in US dollars of $768,733.96 in PSBank Katipunan.
Q: If translated into Pesos, how much is it? Around P40 million?
Drilon: Around P40 million. What happened? Again, I emphasize, the transaction is dated October 31, 2008; now, you go through this, this is on Page 11; now go to Page 16 of the report. You would find another name - Renato Coronado Corona - and same account number, the transaction date is December 15, 2011. The transaction is a withdrawal and is in US dollar of $769,681.71 from PSBank in Katipunan. There was an increase because of the interest from $768,733.96 it became $769,681.
Q: After three years? And this is the date when the impeachment was filed, just to contextualize?
Drilon: Yes. So, all that I did to analyze. On December 31, 2008, this account was existing because this was opened on December 31, 2008. Yearend 2008, it was there; yearend 2009, it was there; yearend 2010, it was there; it was only withdrawn before yearend 2011. Then, you check it against the SALN whether or not it was there. As you pointed out, it's about P40 million. Now, in the SALN, it's about P2.5 to P3 million as cash reported.
Q: And the CJ did not report his dollar accounts but he was one in the SALN?
Drilon: That's correct. And there are five dollar accounts confirmed by the PSBank. It was just one of them. In fact, there is an account containing 300,000 according to this report. So, let's just keep on contextualizing it, put it in proper context. That is our job as senator judges - to see and review the evidence presented. That's why I ask questions. In fact, yesterday, I called down Atty. Manalo when he said all the evidences are false. I said "you know upon questioning of PSBank President, he admitted that these accounts existed; so how can you say that all these accounts are fake?" In fact, we admitted it in this court as evidence. Are you saying to us we just admitted false evidence?
Q: The fact that the PSBank got a TRO means there is dollar accounts to begin with? Or why go for a TRO?
Drilon: That is correct. That is not a question of whether or not the five accounts existed. That is established. It is the amounts that are deposited that were subject of TRO.
Q: And the question is how much?
Q: Does the amount of the dollar account matter in making a decision? Sen. Osmena honestly said "yes"?
Drilon: Yes, because it is an asset.
Q: Let's say the dollar account is just $10,000 and he did not declare it? Would that merit a conviction? Drilon: The SC, in one case, dismissed an employee somewhere in Mindanao for having failed to disclose ownership of a market stall. So, that question yes there is an obligation to report. Because the purpose of the law is transparency; that is what the law says. It is an accountability law. In other words, she wants accounts. If you don't want to account for your wealth, get out of government. So, this is the issue and this is how I reviewed the evidence so far.
Q: Is this a political harassment against the CJ because he was an appointee of the former president? Senator Cayetano had asked that question in a way that, let's say, there were government forces working against him but the evidence is there. I'm curious.
Drilon: Yes, Allan said that yesterday. You keep on saying there is conspiracy. Fine. But having a conspiracy and having the evidence are two different things. Whether or not there is a conspiracy, the deciding point is the evidence. I think the defense is left with no choice but to present the CJ because no one else could explain this because these are personal accounts to him. We will be very respectful of him given his office. But, we will ask question because that is our duty as senator-judges.
Q: The AMLC does receive reports covered transactions from banking institutions, but here, I'm curious there was one transaction in 2004 buying mutual funds P27,933, and it allegedly went to PhilAm dollar bond fund. Why would the AMLC have this?
Drilon: Because, under the law, the insurance companies are covered by the AMLA. Transactions in the insurance company are reported to the AMLC. And this is not covered by the Bank Secrecy Law. This is not a dollar deposit, this is a bond. The law covers bank deposits.
Q: If you invest in dollar bond, is it something, ideally, you have to declare? Drilon: You must declare. Remember it is a statement of assets, and I underscore assets, all your assets should be reported there. I think Sec. Ronald Llamas, his SALNs include his guns. That indicates that the assets are supposed to be reported.
Q: Do public officials really take SALNs seriously?
Drilon: Not after today.
Q: The reason why I asked is that when the SALNs of the cabinet secretaries came out, it's actually refreshing to see Albert Del Rosario hitting P700 million...But you feel some sense it is realistic and not undervalued.
Drilon: Yeah, yes. The first rule there is it has to be made public. But the SC unfortunately has imposed a rule. You cannot inquire into the SALNs of the justices. This is the bone of contention. Why did they spare themselves? Because the reason that they could be subjected to pressure is applicable to everyone who exercised some degree of authority or power in government. So, to me the SC should reveal and make public their SALNs. In fact, even in this impeachment trial, I was being criticized why I was the one who drew out the SALN from the Clerk of Court as if that's a crime to do that.
Q: But not's even a direct question. Drilon: Yeah, I said "you don't have it," the clerk of court said "I have it." You see, so much effort to draw out a SALN even in the impeachment trial which the very issue is the SALN. Today, there is a standing order at SC, you cannot inquire into the SALNs of the justices.
Q: Questions from Twitter/Facebook. What is your major question for the CJ on May 22?
Drilon: We will ask, the main issue here is did you report assets properly in your SALN.
Q: Paano kung hindi sumipot si CJ sa May 22?
Drilon: That is his privilege. At aming susuriin ang kaso na wala siyang testimonya.
Q: Will you ask, Senator Lacson said he will ask the CJ to sign a waiver to reveal his dollar accounts.
Drilon: I will not ask him. That is a matter addressed to the CJ if he agrees to that, that is his decision; if he refuses to sign a waiver, I will respect that.
Q: Justice Cuevas said to Ombudsman, why did you take this report hook, line and sinker? Do you believe this report on its face?
Drilon: I cannot attest to the entire report. What I can just look at are the accounts that are already presented as evidence in court.
Q: So, iyon ang hinanap mo lang. I see.
Q: Yung BPI alleged dollar accounts, hindi mo na inano yun because they were never mentioned in court?
Drilon: I could not verify as to the truthfulness. What I can verify through the records are the PSBank dollar account numbers. This is admitted. How much in the account we do not know because of the TRO issued by the SC. But, if you look at this AMLC report, you can find the same account numbers and account name Renato Coronado Corona.
Q: And the same branch, PSBank Katipunan.
Drilon: Yes, same branch and apart from that, there are BPI accounts which are submitted in evidence in court.
Q: What can the senator say that he is partial against Corona?
Drilon: It all started when accidentally I was able to draw out the SALN from the clerk of court. The record will show I did not expect it, I said "so, you did not bring the SALN because of this policy/resolution?" and she said, "no, I have it." That was the start when they said I am partial to the prosecution because the prosecution wasn't able to draw out the SALN.
Q: You're once a litigator?
Drilon: I was once a practicing lawyer.
Q: To contextualize, the prosecutors are not practicing lawyers; but to be fair, the defense lawyers are also good.
Drilon: I was practicing for 16 years.
Q: Kailan po matatapos ang impeachment? Ano po ang mangyayari sa document na ibinigay ni Harvey Keh?
Drilon: Binuksan kahapon, but those are copied from somewhere. I don't even know where. I didn't see it. Really, there's no point at looking to that.
Q: Why are witnesses treated that way?
Drilon: Well, I can only talk to myself. Even in public trial, I don't think that I am a bully. Bullying is a conclusion of the observer. Each of us is responsible for what we do because we are answerable to the people. At the appropriate time, we will come to the judgment of the people. Kanya-kanyang perception...
Q: Ikaw ba ay wala ring dollar accounts?
Drilon: What I can say is that I report my assets properly in my SALN. Hindi naman bawal ang dollar accounts as long as you report it in the SALN.
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