President Benigno Aquino III has shunned a proposal made by Senator Alan Peter Cayetano for his cabinet members to sign waivers to open their financial records to the public.
This is in connection to a now-withdrawn dare made by Chief Justice Renato Corona that he will waive his rights under the Bank Secrecy Law and Foreign Currency Deposit Act only if Senator Franklin Drilon and the 188 House solons who endorsed the impeachment complaint against him will do the same. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said it is up to members of the cabinet to open their respective bank accounts.
According to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, only four House solons indicated willingness to sign the waiver. One of them is Rep. Antonio Tinio of the Alliance of Concerned Teacher, who expressed his intention via Twitter almost as soon as Corona issued the challenge. In his appearance before the impeachment court yesterday, Corona said that he is now unconditionally opening his bank accounts.
His move was immediately shot down by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who declared that the tribunal is “a hearer, and not a provider of evidence.” For his part, Marikina Rep. Miro Quimbo, a spokesperson for the prosecution panel, described the move a an “attempt to prolong the trial.” Baffled by the indifference shown by both the prosecution panel and his colleagues in the Senate, Senator Francis Escudero said: “It seems that no one is interested all of a sudden. I cannot understand that… I’m urging both sides, for the sake of the country and the public, to make use of this opportunity.”
Back when he was still campaigning for president, then-candidate Aquino claimed that he is willing to waive his rights provided under the Bank Secrecy Law “to set an example for others in his administration if elected president.” Read his office’s press release here, dated February 24, 2010. This is not the first time that Aquino had flip-flopped from his previously stated campaign pledges.
Shortly before his proclamation as winner of the 2010 presidential elections, Aquino stated that the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill will be one of his administration’s priorities. Two years into his presidency, the bill remains pending in the congress, and with some media groups saying that it is in fact tougher now to have access to certain government documents.
From The Economist (May 26, 2012) -> “A flurry of optimism about the Philippines, a regional underachiever, is only partly justified”