Breaking the law

At least three people who know that I am a banker (has been for more than 20 years now) asked me the same question today: If I were Mr. Pascual Garcia, would I have done the same - refuse to disclose the contents of the dollar account of Chief Justice Renato Corona?

My answer: you bet I would do the same. I would have told the senators: Your honors, I will do anything you want me to do except one thing - I will not break the law.

The bank secrecy law on foreign currency deposits is crystal clear. It says banks cannot divulge the contents of a foreign currency account unless there is a consent from the depositor. Not even the Supreme Court can compel a bank to make the disclosure. The law was designed to protect foreign investments in the country.

Those who insist that we disregard laws in order to get to the truth are in effect saying - it's okay to break the law as long as the intent is good. But it's not just about breaking a law, it's also about sending a chilling message to the investing community - banks in this country cannot guarantee secrecy of their deposits or accounts.

Those who insist that the Senate sitting as impeachment court can do anything it wants to do and that it can come up with its guidelines are missing the point. The impeachment court was created by law and should operate within the confines of the law as well.

The congressmen and senators should recognize one thing - it's their job to craft laws; it's their job to protect the integrity of laws in this country. They cannot advocate breaking the law when it suits them.


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