May 18, 2012
TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW OF SEN. SERGE OSMENA
Q: Can we get your position about the entry of these players in the micro-insurance sector? You mentioned during the hearing about giving incentives for the private sector.
Serge: Yes. The word to use there is, 'how the big players could be motivated to enter the micro-insurance market?' Sapagkat alam po natin na it is not a lucrative market, it is a very marginal market. And the big players are used to enjoying a return of their capital. So I have requested the various associations headed by the Insurance Commissioner to study models of other countries that have been successful in developing their micro-finance and micro-insurance market so we will be able to fast-track the development of our micro-insurance market because in terms of numbers, that's 90% of our population. So, ito po 'yung tingi-tingi market po natin but which is necessary for the protection of low-income earners.
Q: Importante na magkaroon ng insurance ang mga low-income earners?
Serge: Kung kailangan ng malaki, mas importante na kailangan din ng maliit. In insurance, you can be protected in so many ways and this is a proven concept in the history of the world. Medical insurance, halimbawa. Minsan magkakaroon ka ng major medical expense, let's not even talk about kidney or liver transplants, 'yung magkaroon ka ng pneumonia, magkaroon ka ng pregnancy complications, kung wala ho kayong insurance kawawa ho kayo. These are instances where human nature has shown that major disasters, financial disasters could occur and by brunching many people together in an insurance pool, we are able to lessen the impact of those financial disasters on the families.
Q: Ano 'yung mga safeguards? Maraming insurance companies ngayon ang nagsasara...
Serge: These are the insurance companies that we would like to close down permanently, 'yung mga fly-by-night na pumapasok sa mga malalaking markets pagkatapos kulang ang capital. Minsan sinasadya eh. Collect sila ng collect ng premiums pero kapag nagkaroon ng liabilities magko-close down na lang sila. So they don't have to pay out the premiums. We are trying to tighten up the policing of those. Alam niyo ang mga ganun, they will not succeed without the connivance of government officials eh. Number one, dun po sa LTO, alam na alam natin na may mga rakets diyan sa mga LTO offices. May mga nagbebenta ng insurance. Kung nagmamadali ka, sasabihin nila, 'Sir, P300 lang may insurance ka na, hindi mo na hahanapin 'yung mga regular supplier mo pars you will already have your LTO registration approved. So, marami 'yun, siguro makaka-1,000 a week ang mga 'yan. At P300, that will be P300,000. Somebody gets an accident, mag-file ka ng claim, wala na, nag-collapse na 'yung insurance na 'yun. Naubos na niya 'yung P300,000. Mabuti kung 1 week lang. Kung 10 weeks, P3 million na. But they never had the intent of paying, they just wanted to collect the premiums. Ngayon, those are companies that are given priority listing by the local LTO registrar, kasabwat eh. That's a police matter also. The law alone would not be able to prevent that. But we can remove the discretion from the local LTO registrar, from the local barangay captain, from the local mayors and from the local boss so that if they are caught doing it, masasabit din 'yung mga kasabwat nila. Maski daw sa Supreme Court ganun din, 'yung mga bail. May listahan sila. At renewable every quarter yata. Eto ang kalokohan dun sa Korte Suprema.
Q: How are you preparing for the appearance of CJ Corona on Tuesday? Are you preparing for it?
Serge: No, I am not preparing for it. I have been following the case. I am quite familiar with the issues involved, the accusations, the allegations, the evidence, so I am ready to listen to his explanation.
Q: Magiging big thing po ba next week 'yung pag-appear ni CJ Corona? Sabi ni Sen. Drilon it would be a super Tuesday?
Serge: Not for me, maybe for him (Corona). Maybe for Sen. Drilon also.
Q: Ano po ang gusto ninyong malaman from CJ Corona?
Serge: Hindi ako abogado, but normally, the process is the prosecution makes the allegations, and you have to defend it. Sasabihin nila he committed this crime at sasabihin ng kabila, 'no it is impossible for me to have committed that crime because I was in another place, or your witness lied.' Marami 'yan eh. We listen to the prosecution present its case, and we listen to the defense panel to present some witnesses to explain, mitigate, or excuse, or absolve certain accusations made against their client but it is the client himself who can explain 2 very important allegations that have arisen in the recent past.
Number 1, his 82 dollar bank accounts. Do they exist, do they not exist? If they exist, why was it not reported in his SALN as mandated by law? If they did not exist, tell us, why is it that the banks reported that these deposits and withdrawals were made over the course of 7 or 8 years to these particular accounts identified with their numbers already, identified as to banks, identified as to bank branch, identified as to account number. That's the first major area that he would have to clarify before the court.
The second major area would be the Basa accounts and everything related thereto, including the allegations that the law was used to squeeze out major stockholders from the Basa corporation. That's another issue.
Q: If he denies the dollar accounts, how would this affect the verdict?
Serge: Well, if he denies without evidence, then he is in trouble. Because we can only go by evidence. Every accused will always come before us and say, 'I did not do it, that's not true.' But you have to present proof why it is not true.
Q: Paano kung technicality ang gamitin nila, na hindi daw na-authenticate ng tama 'yung mga documents na presented by Ombudsman Morales?
Serge: Well, they will not get away with that because to my mind, the public already knows those technicalities don't count anymore at this late stage. Number 1, do the accounts exist? Number 2, how can you say, on a technicality, when you yourself said that in the proper time you will explain the dollar accounts? So, ang sasabihin ko lang kung tatayo ako is, number 3, simple lang ito eh. Just sign a waiver now to all these banks to release the information related to those accounts.
Q: You want him to sign a waiver?
Serge: It would be the simplest way. Because the best evidence would be the bank document itself. No amount of explanation can be better than that. So, akina 'yung passbook niya sa account number 004432 in Bank of PI, San Francisco del Monte branch, so 'yun lang!
Q: What if he refuses to sign a waiver and say there is a SC TRO?
Serge: In a strict sense, in the Rules of Evidence, the prosecution must present its case beyond reasonable doubt in case of criminal cases. There is a lesser quantum of proof that is required in a civil case, and even lesser in administrative cases. One is preponderance of evidence and the other is substantial evidence. Ang nakikita ko po, iba-iba 'yung measure ng quantum of proof na gagamitin ng individual senators. Hindi po natin masasabi 'yun eh. Like me, I am not a lawyer, what is my quantum of evidence? Ang sabi ko, it does not have to be beyond reasonable doubt because the accusation is betrayal of public trust. So I will only ask myself one question: "In the totality of things, does this man deserve my trust? Am I comfortable with him continuing to be in the supreme position of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of this country?" 'Yun lang. And on that basis, I will vote, convicted or not convicted, remembering that I am not depriving him of his life, I am not depriving him of his property, I am not depriving him of his liberty. It's just that, do I believe that he deserves to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of our country?
Q: Hindi talaga kailangan na pigilan niya na buksan pa 'yung mga accounts considering na...
Serge: As a matter of fact, it would be bad for him if he says, "You cannot touch my bank account kasi that is protected by law.' That is worst admission that he can make that he is hiding something.
Q: Pero makakabuo pa din kayo ng desisyon?
Serge: Yes. I mean, we will come to a vote, whether we like it or not on May 31. I believe that the Senate will decide that it's about time that we vote on this because ang daming bills na nakasalang, and we are way behind the consideration of several priority measures, and that's our main purpose in being in the Senate, not to try impeachment cases but to pass laws to make our society better.
Q: Ang sinasabi ng lawyers nila, there's a TRO on the dollar accounts, wala siyang waiver under the Bank Secrecy law, sa FCDU law kailangan niyang i-waive 'yun. In case na 'yun ang kanyang i-invoke, paano ang magiging appreciation niyo ng mga evidence presented?
Serge: That will be up to the individual senators. But it would seem very silly that you kept us busy for 6 months only to come up with a technicality as a defense. That would be very, very silly, that will not be well taken by the public and by most of the judges.
Q: Paano kung ma-debunk niya 'yung mga dollar accounts?
Serge: Well, yes, if he can say that 'that is not my dollar accounts, those accounts belong to Mike Arroyo, my gosh! He might not be acquitted completely because, why was he fronting for Mike Arroyo�
Q: You have that suspicion? Na ginamit lang siya ni Mike Arroyo?
Serge: Hindi. Ginagamit ko lang na example. Baka mamaya i-quote niyo na naman ako.
Q: Parang si Iggy Arroyo?
Serge: Oo, he might be the new Jose Pidal.
Q: Lulusot siya kung nagpagamit lang siya?
Serge: Biro lang 'yan. Baka gagawin mong istorya na malaki. Baka bukas mababasa KO, "Osmena accuses Corona of being the new Jose Pidal."
Q: Pero paano kung sabihin nga niya na hindi 'yun kanya?
Serge: 'Yun na nga. To me, that's a possibility, he can say it. That's not mine. Tingnan natin. Abangan na lang.
Q: Expert kayo sa banking. 'Yung pagkakaroon ba ng 82 dollar accounts, napakaraming financial transactions, madali bang ipaliwanag 'yun? 'Yung mga suspicious transactions?
Serge: Hindi naman suspicious eh, nandun na, that there are 82 accounts. How can you disprove that? This is not just a week ago, this has been going on for years. So 'yung mga reports na umaabot sa Anti-Money Laundering Council is a compilation of reports that have been sent since we passed the AMLA law. It isn't like it only happened in the last 6 months or 3 months. So, it's impossible to manufacture.
Q: Paano kung nagkamali lang sila Ombudsman Morales at si Heidi Mendoza dun sa pag-compute ng mga galaw ng amounts sa bank accounts?
Serge: Hindi sila pwedeng magkamali sa mga amounts na dineposito at winidraw. Pwede silang magkamali because it was not an accurate measurement on using a flow of funds to result in a stock measure of funds. This is an accounting term eh. Kung meron akong, example lang, every 3 months I will deposit it to a special account, instruct the bank to buy 91 day T-bills with a yield of 4%, at the end of 91 days, iwi-withdraw ko iyan. So sasabihin mo, on January 1, Corona deposited $200,000 and on March 31, he withdrew $204,000. On April 1, he deposited $204,000, on June 30, he withdrew $208,000, on July 1, he deposited $208,000, on September 30, he withdrew $212,000�ganun, up to the end of the year. So, pwede mong sabihin, 'Wow, Corona deposited $200k, withdrew $200k, deposited $200k, withdrew $200k." But if you examine that, it only started with $200,000, but it could be counted as $1.2M. So, that is where measuring flow and interpreting it as stock could be result in an error. Alam naman ni Heidi Mendoza at ni Ombudsman na best guess ito. Because unless we ask the bank to tell us, as of December 31, 2007, what was the level of all of his deposits in dollar and other foreign currency in your bank, we will never know the exact amount. It's only the banks that know the exact amount. And of course, Corona. The estimate that I get, at least $200,000, it's not $1.2M. That's how it all started.
Q: Ang point sir, dapat nakadeklara sa SALN?
Serge: Dapat naka-declare sa SALN. Regardless of the amount. Because it has value eh, it's an asset. Asset is anything of value. Liability is anything that you owe, but there's a value to that, also. I owe you 100,000, dapat naka-sulat 'yan.
Q: Ang mga points na binanggit ninyo lahat related sa mga accounts ni Corona. What about the properties, are you satisfied on how the Coronas have explained that?
Serge: No, I am not satisfied. What I am saying is that the dollar accounts are so big, that it outshines, overshadows, the property accounts. These property accounts, mga P40 million lang 'yan. Tapos 'yung Basa accounts, mga P34million. But the $12 million, that's essentially P500million.
Q: Pero babalik na naman sa isyu na 'yung $10M hindi kasama dun sa impeachment complaint?
Serge: That's a technicality. The thing is, if you look at 2.3, that's related also to 2.4. Itong 2.3, did not declare in his SALN, 2.4 has something to do with illegal accumulation of wealth. Tanggalin mo nas 'yung illegal accumulation of wealth, 2.3 says did not declare assets. Pasok sa 2.3, did not declare nga eh.
Q: 'Yung dollar accounts pasok sa assets?
Serge: Yes, it's an asset. Whether the asset is in gold, diamonds, paintings, dollars, yen, pounds, in euro.
Q: Dapat converted na lang to peso?
Serge: It does not matter kung peso o dollar. He must reflect that asset. It's still an asset. It must be reflected in his SALN.
Q: Hindi naman daw impeachable offense 'yung non-inclusion? Mako-correct naman daw 'yun?
Serge: Depends on the seriousness of the crime. That's where some subjectivity will come in. If he says, Oh, I forgot to put P5M in my Statement of Assets. Pero teka muna, but my assets have P200M. So, it's not serious di ba? You can always make a mistake. But to make a mistake like, I declared assets of P18M, I forgot P500M, ay teka muna. Medyo sinasadya ito.
Number 2, san niya nakuha 'yung P500M? He's in a position of trust. He has been a member of our highest court, the court that is supposed to be the final arbiter of justice in this country, who cannot be wrong because even if they're wrong, they're still right. Ganun ang Supreme Court eh. And he has been there since 2001, that's over 10 years. Will I accept an explanation that he forgot to put P500M in his total assets of P18M?
Q: Impeachable offense na ba 'yun?
Serge: To me, that's very, very serious because, first, it's a position of trust eh. Even if he were a councilor, he will be impeached eh. Eh ngayon pa na he is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
Serge: You know, the lawyers tend to look at Rules of Court, Rules of Procedure, Rules of Evidence, hindi po eh.
Q: Almost 90% ng natatapos ang impeachment trial, meron na po ba kayong nabubuong desisyon? May mga desisyon na po ba ang mga senador?
Serge: I have decided to re-marry my wife because she has been very patient through all these ?
Q: Ano ang situation. May desisyon na ba ang mga senador?
Serge: We don't talk about this. We discuss the evidence.
Q: Ano ang effect if in case he invokes his right against self-incrimination?
Serge: That's up to him, he is allowed to invoke his right. But what's the self-incrimination? I thought he was innocent?
Q: may usap-usapan na may numbers na about Corona. Merong 8-5, merong iba?
Serge: You guys know more than I do. We don't count who will vote this, vote that, hindi naman magsasabi ang mga 'yan eh. 'Yang mga 'yan, estimated best guess ang mga 'yan. Sometimes one of us will talk to some of us, at tatanungin niya, ano kaya? Sagot naman, I think Osmena will vote to� those are best guesses. Nobody can give an accurate count?
Q: Is it proper that the prosecutors are seen in Malacanang considering that there are allegations of a conspiracy?
Serge: There is no crime of a conspiracy to impeach Corona. Because there's nothing wrong with carrying out a mandate of the law wherein there is a violation of law, then it must be pursued in order that the truth will come out. So, anong masama dun? Conspiracy to commit a crime, yes, but what is the crime involved when you're trying to pursue justice? Now, if they're coming out with false evidence against Chief Justice Corona, that is a conspiracy to commit a crime. And I am very much against that. But, why will they involve themselves in something as stupid as that, ano?! It can only be termed a conspiracy if it is a conspiracy to commit a crime, but if it is a conspiracy to tell the truth, then ...
Q: Dapat bang iwasan ng mga members ng prosecution ang pagpunta sa Palasyo?
Serge: Hindi. No. There's nothing wrong in going to the Palace. Those guys have business in the Palace. They're congressmen. Baka pina-follow up lang ang mga PDAF nila.
Q: Even the private prosecutors?
Serge: Hindi ko alam. I did not know that private prosecutors go to the Palace. I don't know if any crime have been committed. Because you know, remember this, all of the Cabinet members are alter ego of the President. So, when the secretary of justice does something, she's really doing it in the name of the president. So if you're talking about Chief Prosecutor, the President is also the chief prosecutor, he is the boss of the secretary of justice, he is the boss of the solicitor general. He is also the chief military man, he is the boss of the secretary of defense. He is the chief foreign expert because he is the boss of the secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs. All of those are only alter ego of the president. Under our Constitution, we give the president that power, so much power. Eto mga substitutes lang ang mga 'yan.
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