The Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP), sitting as a committee of the whole expressed dismay over the testimony of it’s “main resource person”, Atty. Salvador Diputado on the $81 million mystery deposit allegedly owned by a top provincial official.
Diputado, during the 2nd SP hearing on July 20, 2016 stonewalled and dawdled on his testimonies despite his admission that he is the source of the news but had no personal knowledge over the information provided by his sources which he refused to identify.
“The information that i received from my sources are still in the process of validation. I am also awaiting the issuance of the Freedom of Information Executive Order of President Rodrigo Duterte”.
Diputado also dropped hints that there is a group in Manila who is also validating the information that he has received.
The committee was stumped by Diputado’s explanations that “the identity of the account holder is part of the puzzle” and cautioned to wait for the validation otherwise we will indulge in endless tsismis (rumor).
When asked by Arcamo is any document supported his articles or broadcast, Diputado in his usual argumentative manner answered “If I had the document then I would have publish it. Since there was none then there was nothing to publish”.
Diputado also asked Bohol Bankers Association immediate past president Deo Butawan to issue a certified statement to validate his testimony during the June 22, 2016 hearing on the non-existence of the $81 million dollar account.
The amazing story of a staggering single account deposit of $81 Million or roughly P3.5 Billion in current exchange rate owned by a top provincial official deposited in a local bank has titillated the imagination of a gullible public and fueled by the post in Diputado’s Facebook page that went viral.
Two institutions – the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) of Bohol and the Bohol Bankers Association cried foul over sly insinuations of an $81 million deposit in a local bank by a top provincial government official that has smeared their respective reputations.
3rd District Board Member Elpidio Jala, filed a manifestation on Friday, July 17, 2016 expressing deep concern over “issues that tainted the integrity of the provincial officialdom”.
Jala stressed that the SP “should not be a silent bystander since we are all considered suspects unless the depositor is identified”.
Board Member Vencenzio Arcamo told Diputado that the purpose of the committee hearing was to clarify the identity of the public official, the source of his information and the veracity of the $81 million deposit.
But Diputado diddled around saying “I want to know who was offended by my article or radio commentaries and what offended him since I did not identify a particular official or bank. The term I use was generic meaning it applies to anybody”.
Diputado anchored his position on the issue of the right of a journalist to refuse to divulge the identity of a confidential source and due process with regard to his “quorum challenge” and the legality of holding a hearing that started in the previous SP without the benefit of refiling the resolution.
But Board Member Abeleon Damalerio chided Diputado that “this is not a court trial. We are not going to rule on the admissibility or not of an evidence because we are not going to make judgement or incur obligations or imposing damages”.
Damalerio pointed out to Diputado that the SP is “offering you a forum wherein it can be recorded that you can be free to tell what you have been telling the people all over the radio and your column in the papers”
At this point, Diputado dangled the issue of a bank waiver to be executed by all the board members to preempt the identification of the bank account due to the bank secrecy law if he identifies the account holder.
But board members saw this as a ruse for a fishing expedition on the part of Diputado saying “why are you imposing a condition to the alleged account holder when that is the protection accorded to him by the law?”
Name the owner of the bank account and the bank then let the alleged owner of the dollar account execute a waiver if he or she wishes so. The public is keenly awaiting outcome of this hearing but instead we are treated to technical and legal wranglings from somebody who is afraid that his expose would become a dead end”.
After failing to convince the board members to execute a waiver, Diputado became testy and evasive when pushed by the board members to validate what he wrote in his column Cold Cuts in the Bohol Times.
When asked by Arcamo if he wrote the articles in his column, Diputado retorted “You continue!”. When asked again for clarification about the article, again Diputado snapped back “I said you continue reading!”.
This prompted Damalerio to chastise Diputado of his “actuations that speak of a bit of ridicule and mockery of the proceedings . . If you insult us you are insulting the Boholano people who elected us. Just give Board Member Arcamo the courtesy that he deserves”.
But Diputado haughtily told Damelerio that as member of the media who is considered the fourth estate “you cannot dictate on us” and continued to ignore the request of Arcamo to confirm if he wrote the article.
Diputado even.bluntly told the committee not to tune in to his radio program and listen to other stations if they consider the discussions not to their liking.
With the committee hearing still in limbo, the SP are exploring all avenues to ferret out the truth of the dollar account while its “resource person” is also in the process of validating the information form his sources which he admitted he has no personal knowledge.Â (Chito M. Visarra)