Despite a legal prohibition, the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) intends to file a civil forfeiture case against Vice President Jejomar Binay and his family, according to the Vice President’s camp.
Rico Quicho, Binay’s spokesman on political affairs, on Thursday said they see the move as a last-ditch effort to hit at the Vice President after the Binay family’s “moral victory” at the Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday.
“The decision of the Supreme Court in the case involving Makati Mayor [Jejomar Erwin] ‘Junjun’ Binay is a moral victory. It vindicates the position of the mayor that his suspension was invalid and unlawful,” Quicho said.
The High Court ruled as unconstitutional Section 14 of the Ombudsman Act of 1989, upholding the power of the Court of Appeals (CA) to review the Ombudsman’s decisions and administrative orders.
“The decision is a reaffirmation that under a democracy, the acts of agents of government can be reviewed by the courts. No government agency or entity should be excluded from the principle of checks and balances since this will encourage and even foster abuse of power, especially against political opponents of the ruling party,” Quicho said.
He added, “We have been informed, however, that a last-ditch effort will be made to again harass and tarnish the good name of the Vice President and his family using yet again another government agency, the [AMLC].”
“This involves the filing of a civil forfeiture [case]despite a clear legal prohibition against such acts during the election period. This provision was included in the Anti-Money Laundering Act [AMLA] precisely to prevent the AMLC for abusing its powers for political harassment,” Quicho said.
Section 16 of the AMLA states, “No case for money laundering may be filed against and no assets shall be frozen, attached or forfeited to the prejudice of a candidate for an electoral office during an election period.”
“The AMLC already has a reputation for being a highly partisan government agency directed to attack and discredit opponents [of the reigning administration]even if it contravenes its own rules and existing laws protecting the rights of individuals,” Quicho said.
“Once again, the rule of law and [the sanctity of]constitutional rights will be discarded and ignored just to prevent the Vice President from pursuing his dream to address poverty, hunger and unemployment, and introduce efficiency, competence and compassion in government,” he added.
“And once again, the Vice President will be more than ready to face his accusers in a court of law,” Quicho said.
The Vice President filed in July a P200-million civil suit for damages against AMLC officials Amando Tetangco Jr., Emmanuel Dooc, Teresita Herbosa, Julia Abad and nine others, including Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, for their allegedly orchestrated effort to “maliciously destroy his character and reputation” in violation of the Civil Code of the Philippines or Republic Act 386 before the Makati Regional Trial Court.
In May this year, the Binay camp scored AMLC for its misleading reports that made it appear that the Vice President owns all of the 242 bank accounts, investments and insurance policies that the council has been investigating.
Only five of the accounts mentioned were under the name of the Vice President.
The AMLC also reported that Binay’s salary as government official was his only source of income.
In interviews, the Vice President clarified that he had income and savings before he joined the government.