It was the legislative then, through the Senate, that ordered an inquiry into the alleged hidden wealth of Vice President Jejomar Binay. Now it is the executive branch doing the job by using the courts against him.
This issue of branches of the government being independent of each other is expected to be raised after the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) asked the Court of Appeals (CA) to allow the council to peek into the bank accounts of the Binays, their corporations and a law office where a family member was once a partner.
According to an unimpeachable source of The Manila Times, personal assets of the Vice President are now under scrutiny to determine if sources of funds are ill-gotten or not.
AMLC is under the executive and headed by the governor of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas with heads of the Insurance Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission as members.
Application for examination of bank accounts is the preliminary step before the AMLC could proceed with application for a freeze order on the Binays’ assets.
This procedure will help establish if money kept by the family is laundered or not.
A petition for the examination of the bank accounts of the Binays was filed last week with the CA.
As a rule, AMLC cases are strictly confidential in the appellate court.
The petition shall be filed ex-parte or even without notifying the Binay camp, with actions and resolutions of the CA remaining strictly confidential.
In the long line of AMLC cases in the Court of Appeals after Republic Act 9160 was passed into law, this is the first time that bank accounts of the Vice President of the Philippines are being sought for examination.
Recently, bank accounts of Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. were also subjected to AMLC examination as a result of their indictment for plunder at the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan.
The appellate court granting the request of the AMLC to look into the Binay family’s bank accounts makes its patriarch the Vice President as the highest ranking government official to be investigated by the council over alleged ill-gotten wealth or whose assets are suspected to have been acquired unlawfully.
Aside from the Binay patriarch, The Manila Times source said the bank accounts of Dr. Elenita Binay, Makati City (Metro Manila) Rep. Abigail Binay and Makati Mayor Erwin Jejomar “Junjun” Binay Jr., wife, daughter and son, respectively, of the Vice President.
Also, the corporations linked to the Binay clan and alleged to be sources supposed ill-gotten wealth will be scrutinized on the basis of testimony of former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado.
Among the bank accounts of the Binays sought to be examined are with Banco de Oro, Bank of Philippine Islands, Land Bank of the Philippines and several others.
Also included in the petition for the examination of the bank accounts are those linked to businessman Gerry Limlingan, alleged dummy and bagman of the Vice President when he was still the mayor of Makati, as claimed by Mercado.
Also the bank accounts of the law office linked to the family, the Subido Pagente Certeza Mendoza & Binay Law Firm, where the Vice President’s daughter Abigail was a former partner.
As a rule, once the appellate court issued a resolution to grant the examination of the bank accounts of the Binay clan, the AMLC must submit a report to the court after the examination is completed.
The council can then apply with the CA for a freeze order of the assets that could last six months.
The Senate blue ribbon committee had ordered an investigation of transactions and assets of the Vice President on the basis of testimonies of Mercado, lawyer Renato Bondal and Nicolas Enciso 6th.
Mercado and the two complainants filed plunder raps against Binay and his son Junjun, Makati Mayor Junjun Binay before the Office of the Ombudsman.
They filed the complaint on the basis of their expose about the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2, which cost P2.3 billion.
Other issues of corruption in the Senate hounding the Vice President alleged irregularities in Pag-IBIG and Boys Scouts of the Philippines (BSP).
Binay was accused in past hearings of the Senate blue ribbon sub-subcommittee of rigging bids, getting kickbacks during his stint as Makati mayor and using dummies to advance his interests in several companies.
Mercado also accused the Vice President of owning a 350-hectare property in Rosario, Batangas, a log cabin in Tagaytay Highlands and units in several condominiums in Makati.
Binay, however, Binay dismissed these allegations, saying his political enemies were only out to derail his chances of winning the race for President in the 2016 elections.
National surveys have shown him as frontrunner to bag the presidency in next year’s polls.