The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to explain why it included the bank account of Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada’s wife in its inquiry report on the senator’s alleged involvement in a multi-million peso plunder trial at the Sandiganbayan.
In a one-page resolution issued on June 16, 2015, the SC en banc gave the AMLC 10 days to submit its comment on the complaint raised by Estrada.
The senator said AMLC’s exposure of his and his wife’s bank accounts violated “their constitutional rights against unreasonable search and seizure.”
In his petition for certiorari before the SC en banc, Estrada told the high court that the Sandiganbayan committed grave abuse of discretion and violated existing bank secrecy law in setting aside his motion for the exclusion of the conjugal bank accounts as prosecution evidence.
He argued that the AMLC reports were made from 2005 to 2012, before the Anti-Money Laundering Law (AMLA) that allowed bank inquiries was amended in June 2012, through RA No. 10167.
Since the law cannot be retroactive in application, “relevant bank inquiry orders should not have been issued without notice given to the owner of the bank accounts,” Estrada argued.
He alleged that AMLC was just pushing for a “fishing expedition,” after including other related accounts in the inquiry, calling this a “fruit of the poisonous tree” as defined in the amended AMLA.
Estrada was accused of amassing P183.79 million in kickbacks from his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations from 2004 to 2010.
Estrada and opposition Senators Ramon Revilla and Juan Ponce Enrile were imprisoned in 2014 for alleged misuse of their development funds.
Whistle-blowers said more than 80 percent of lawmakers allegedly misused their respective annual development funds that amount to P 200 million per senator and P 75 million per congressman.