• AMLC ‘constitutional,’ Binay camp plea junked

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    THE Supreme Court (SC) has junked a petition filed by the camp of former Vice President Jejomar Binay challenging the constitutionality of the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001 or Republic Act (RA) 9160.

    In a full court ruling, the tribunal denied the petition for certiorari and prohibition filed by Subido Pagente Certeza Mendoza and Binay law offices as it declared the same as valid and constitutional.

    The petition specifically assailed AMLC’s authority to file with the Court of Appeals (CA), in Binay’s case, an ex-parte application for inquiry into certain bank deposits and investments, including related accounts based on probable cause.

    In 2015, a year before the 2016 presidential elections, reports abounded on the supposed disproportionate wealth of then-Vice President Binay and the rest of his family, some of whom were also elected public officials.

    The Office of the Ombudsman and the Senate conducted investigations and inquiries ostensibly based on their respective powers embodied in the Constitution.

    From various news reports announcing the inquiry into then-Vice President Binay’s bank accounts, including accounts of members of his family, the petitioners were most concerned with the article published in The Manila Times on February 25, 2015 entitled “Inspect Binay Bank Accounts.”

    They were surprised to receive a call from The Manila Times requesting a comment regarding a supposed petition filed by the Republic of the Philippines represented by the AMLC before the CA seeking to examine the law office’s bank accounts.

    To verify the matter, the law office has authorized its associate, lawyer Jose Julius Castro, to inquire on the veracity of the report with the CA.

    Binay’s camp eventually filed its petition before the High Court assailing AMLC’s power to file the case with the appellate tribunal.

    In its November 16, 2016 ruling, however, the SC junked the petition.

    “If the CA finds no substantial merit in the petition, it shall dismiss the petition outright stating the specific reasons for such denial. If found meritorious and there is a subsequent petition for freeze order, the proceedings shall be governed by the existing Rules on Petitions for Freeze Order in the CA,” the tribunal said.

    “From the issuance of a freeze order, the party aggrieved by the ruling of the court may appeal to the Supreme Court by petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court raising all pertinent questions of law and issues, including the propriety of the issuance of a bank inquiry order. The appeal shall not stay the enforcement of the subject decision or final order unless the Supreme Court directs otherwise.”

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