Posted by: Elmer Brabante | January 18, 2010

Philippine National Bank vs. Gancayco, GR No. L-18343 [Sept. 30, 1965]


PHILIPPINE NATIONAL BANK and EDUARDO Z. ROMUALDEZ, vs. EMILIO A. GANCAYCO and FLORENTINO FLOR

G.R. No. L-18343

September 30, 1965

en banc

FACTS:

Defendants Emilio A. Gancayco and Florentino Flor, as special prosecutors of the Department of Justice, required the plaintiff Philippine National Bank (PNB) to produce at a hearing on February 20, 1961 the records of the bank deposits of Ernesto T. Jimenez, former administrator of the Agricultural Credit and Cooperative Administration, who was then under investigation for unexplained wealth. In declining to reveal its records, PNB invoked RA 1405 which provides:

SEC. 2. All deposits of whatever nature with banks or banking institutions in the Philippines including investments in bonds issued by the Government of the Philippines, its political subdivisions and its instrumentalities, are hereby considered as of an absolutely confidential nature and may not be examined, inquired or looked into by any person, government official, bureau or office, except upon written permission of the depositor, or in cases of impeachment, or upon order of a competent court in cases of bribery or dereliction of duty of public officials, or in cases where the money deposited or invested is the subject matter of the litigation.

On the other hand, the defendants cited the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (RA 3019) in support of their claim of authority and demanded anew that plaintiff Eduardo Z. Romualdez, as bank president, produce the records or he would be prosecuted for contempt. The defendants invoked Sec. 8 of Ra 3019 which states that:

SEC. 8. Dismissal due to unexplained wealth. — If in accordance with the provisions of Republic Act Numbered One thousand three hundred seventy-nine, a public official has been found to have acquired during his incumbency, whether in his name or in the name of other persons, an amount of property and/or money manifestly out of proportion to his salary and to his other lawful income, that fact shall be a ground for dismissal or removal. Properties in the name of the spouse and unmarried children of such public official may be taken into consideration, when their acquisition through legitimate means cannot be satisfactorily shown. Bank deposits shall be taken into consideration in the enforcement of this section, notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary.

Because of the threat of prosecution, plaintiffs filed an action for declaratory judgment in the Manila CFI. After trial, during which Senator Arturo M. Tolentino, author of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act testified, the court rendered judgment, sustaining the power of the defendants to compel the disclosure of bank accounts of ACCFA Administrator Jimenez. The court said that, by enacting Section 8 of RA 3019, Congress clearly intended to provide an additional ground for the examination of bank deposits. Without such provision, the court added prosecutors would be hampered if not altogether frustrated in the prosecution of those charged with having acquired unexplained wealth while in public office.

From that judgment, plaintiffs appealed to this Court. In brief, plaintiffs’ position is that section 8 of the Anti-Graft Law “simply means that such bank deposits may be included or added to the assets of the Government official or employee for the purpose of computing his unexplained wealth if and when the same are discovered or revealed in the manner authorized by Section 2 of RA 1405, which are (1) upon written permission of the depositor; (2) in cases of impeachment; (3) upon order of a competent court in cases of bribery or dereliction of duty of public officials; and (4) in cases where the money deposited or invested is the subject matter of the litigation.”

ISSUES:

1.  Whether or not RA 3019 which took effect on August 17, 1960 is a general law which cannot be deemed to have impliedly repealed section 2 of RA 1405 (which took effect on Sept. 9, 1955), because of the rule that repeals by implication are not favored.

2.  Whether or not a bank can be compelled to disclose the records of accounts of a depositor who is under investigation for unexplained wealth.

HELD:

Contrary to their claim that their position effects a reconciliation of the provisions of the two laws, plaintiffs are actually making the provisions of Republic Act No. 1405 prevail over those of the RA 3019, because even without the latter law the balance standing to the depositor’s credit can be considered provided its disclosure is made in any of the cases provided in RA 1405.

The truth is that RA 3019 and RA 1405 are so repugnant to each other than no reconciliation is possible. Thus, while RA 1405 provides that bank deposits are “absolutely confidential and therefore may not be examined, inquired or looked into, except in those cases enumerated therein, RA 3019 directs in mandatory terms that bank deposits “shall be taken into consideration in the enforcement of this section, notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary.” The only conclusion possible is that section 8 of the RA 3019 is intended to amend section 2 of RA 1405 by providing additional exception to the rule against the disclosure of bank deposits.

Indeed, if the new law is inconsistent with or repugnant to the old law, the presumption against the intent to repeal by implication is overthrown because the inconsistency or repugnancy reveals an intent to repeal the existing law. And whether a statute, either in its entirety or in part, has been repealed by implication is ultimately a matter of legislative intent. (Crawford, The Construction of Statutes, Secs. 309-310. Cf. Iloilo Palay and Corn Planters Ass’n v. Feliciano, G.R. No. L-24022, March 3, 1965).

With regard to the claim that disclosure would be contrary to the policy making bank deposits confidential, it is enough to point out that while section 2 of RA 1405 declares bank deposits to be “absolutely confidential,” it nevertheless allows such disclosure in the following instances: (1) Upon written permission of the depositor; (2) In cases of impeachment; (3) Upon order of a competent court in cases of bribery or dereliction of duty of public officials; (4) In cases where the money deposited is the subject matter of the litigation. Cases of unexplained wealth are similar to cases of bribery or dereliction of duty and no reason is seen why these two classes of cases cannot be excepted from the rule making bank deposits confidential. The policy as to one cannot be different from the policy as to the other. This policy expresses the motion that a public office is a public trust and any person who enters upon its discharge does so with the full knowledge that his life, so far as relevant to his duty, is open to public scrutiny.

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