Malacañang sees no need for President Aquino to sign any waiver on his bank accounts despite the challenge hurled by Senators Francis Escudero and Alan Peter Cayetano, who want all members of the Cabinet to give the public access to their assets.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte pointed out that doing so would lump Aquino with expelled chief justice Renato Corona, who was found guilty of non-disclosure of assets, betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution.
“Is it fair to put the President, who has not been accused of graft, who has not been accused of dishonesty, to put him in the same category as the man who was just removed from his post, from being the highest magistrate of the land?” Valte asked.
Despite Aquino’s promise during the 2010 presidential campaign to sign a waiver of his bank accounts once elected president, Valte argued there is no need at this point to make good on this promise, since it was made in a different context at the time.
Valte echoed the statement of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile that signing bank waivers are mere “theatrics,” especially because such waivers have always been included in the annual statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) that they regularly submit.
“Under the Bank Secrecy Law, there are exceptions there that would trigger the opening of the accounts,” she said.
“It’s all theatrics. Again, there is already a waiver in the SALN that authorizes the Ombudsman to get all the relevant information from all government offices,” she said.
She also added that Aquino has always made available his SALN, from the time he entered government service when he won as Tarlac congressman in 1998, when he was elected senator in 2007 and until now that he is President.
“From 1998 onward, they have all been available publicly. Nobody had said that his SALN disclosure was incomplete or they have not been truthful. And the same goes for members of his Cabinet,” Valte said.
So far, no incumbent Cabinet official – perhaps even past ones – has declared his dollar account/s, if there are any, in the SALN that he has submitted.
Valte qualified, however, that it will be up to members of the official family – in an individual capacity – to sign a waiver if they want to, either on their peso or foreign currency deposits.
“It will be the personal decision of the Cabinet members if they want to sign a waiver under the Bank Secrecy Law and under the FCD Law if applicable,” she said in her weekly interview over state-run radio dzRB.