Indeed, this may be what Victor Hugo called “an idea whose time has come.”
Hugo wrote that famous line in 1852 in an essay titled The history of a crime. He contended that the French Revolution was France’s gift to the world.
The key passage reads: “The French revolution is for all the world. It is a battle perpetually waged for Right, and perpetually gained for Truth. Right is the innermost part of man; Truth is the innermost part of God. What can be done against a revolution, which has so much right on its side? Nothing. To love it. That is what the nations do. France offers herself, the world accepts her. The whole phenomenon lies in these few words. An invasion of armies can be resisted; an invasion of ideas cannot be resisted.”
The final line has been loosely translated, “There is nothing stronger than an idea whose time has come.” And that’s how it’s usually remembered today.
I thought of using the quote for a piece on Duterte that would highlight the fact that he is the first man or woman from Mindanao to run for President in our history. But before I could say that history could be on his side, DU30 detonated and immolated himself in a bonfire of profanities and blood-curdling threats.
A live and burning issue
So here I am, reduced in this column into substituting the waiver of bank deposits secrecy as the idea whose time has come.
We are not talking here about waiving secrecy for all deposits, or about the repeal of the law governing bank deposits: Republic Act No. 1405, or the Secrecy of Bank Deposits Act, which provides that bank deposits may only be inquired into with a written permission of the depositor.
Rather, this concerns the proposal for presidential candidates to issue a waiver of secrecy for all their bank accounts, as an earnest of their desire to show the people that they are not secretly hiding stolen or unexplained wealth.
It has become a live and burning issue because of the disclosure by Sen. Antonio Trillanes that presidential candidate Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has over P200 million stashed away in bank accounts at the Bank of the Philippine Islands (Julia Vargas Ave. Branch). Duterte claims that it is all a lie. Trillanes says he will resign as senator and withdraw his candidacy for vice president if his charge is shown to be without basis.
We could wind up with one less presidential candidate and one less vice-presidential candidate by the time Election Day comes. Some will say, that’s not a bad idea, considering the wild-and-woolly campaign we have been seeing.
Binay throws down the gauntlet
To his credit, it was Vice-President Jejomar Binay who first proposed this perfectly sound idea of waiving secrecy on the bank accounts of presidential candidates. He proposed it at the second presidential debate held in Cebu City.
He dared all five presidential candidates (Manuel Roxas II, Rodrigo Duterte, Grace Poe, Miriam Defensor-Sanbtiago, and himself) to waive secrecy over their bank accounts, and to authorize the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to investigate their bank holdings.
Binay signed the waiver and threw down the gauntlet as it were (the idiom comes from medieval times when knights would throw down a glove to challenge someone to a duel). But not one of his presidential opponents, not even the tough-talking Duterte, picked up the gauntlet.
The moderators did not see the historic opportunity to create a headline; they focused instead on preventing Binay from bringing out the waiver forms and his files of documents on stage.
Trillanes’s big moment
Sen. Trillanes, in his only noteworthy move in the campaign, has gotten traction with his expose of the millions stashed away by Duterte. He gave details about the bank, the branch and the account, and the mind-boggling amounts involved.
The story might have died as just another allegation but for the alert action of the camp of Mar Roxas.
Yesterday, on social media, the evidence of the Duterte account’s existence surfaced through a deposit slip of P500. The sum was deposited by someone from Mar Roxas’ staff toward Duterte’s account to verify the existence of the BPI account. BPI accepted the deposit and issued a receipt to the depositor, which means that the account is still a live one. The deposit slip image was posted on social media.
Caught at his lie, Duterte, who had earlier vehemently denied that he had a BPI account at the BPI Julia Vargas branch, finally admitted that he does have a BPI account and several other bank accounts.
But he still tried to lie despite being caught, saying that the hundreds of millions no longer exist and that the account contains only P17,000 and below P50,000.
He did not explain why he failed to include these bank accounts in his 2014 Statement of Assets, Liablities and Networth (SALN), which is required of every government official and employee.
Earlier, Duterte and his camp said, after the expose, that he was mulling filing a libel suit against Trillanes, insinuating that Trillanes had obtained the bank information illegally.
The mayor and his runningmate, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, last month signed a waiver allowing the public to scrutinize their bank accounts and even challenged their rivals to do so. It’s a phony waiver.
Vice President Binay’s waiver offer is the real thing. What he proposed can be accepted, because the candidates must submit the waivers to the Anti-Money Laundering Council.
Administration bet Manuel “Mar” Roxas II joined the fray as he slammed Duterte for blatantly lying about the existence of his BPI bank account.
Roxas disclosed that he had asked his staff to deposit money into Duterte’s account and was able to confirm that it belonged to “Rodrigo Roa Duterte” and “Sara Z. Duterte,” the mayor’s daughter.
Roxas signed a waiver for his accounts and posted it on social media.
Trying to get into the act, Grace Poe lamely declared that she is willing to execute a bank waiver if there are similar issues being hurled at her.
A national tragedy
Yesterday, former Chief Justice Renato Corona died suddenly from cardiac arrest.
His sudden passing is doubly saddening and ironic, because it has come at a time when the bank secrecy law is being questioned heavily, and the subject of hidden bank deposits has become an issue in the election campaign.
The former chief justice was impeached for allegedly failing to include foreign currency deposits in his SALN, and he was thereafter convicted when he inexplicably and dramatically executed a waiver of secrecy on his bank accounts.
The controversy over his bank deposits was triggered by violations of the bank secrecy law by no less than the AMLC, and evidently on the command of President BS Aquino III.
The fact that 20 senators sold themselves for Corona’s lynching turned his story into a national tragedy.