"x x x.
GSIS invokes Republic Act No. 1405 to justify the issuance of the subpoena while the banks cite Republic Act No. 6426 to oppose it. The core issue is which of the two laws should apply in the instant case.
Republic Act No. 1405 was enacted in 1955. Section 2 thereof was first amended by Presidential Decree No. 1792 in 1981 and further amended by Republic Act No. 7653 in 1993. It now reads:
Section 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.
Section 8 of Republic Act No. 6426, which was enacted in 1974, and amended by Presidential Decree No. 1035 and later by Presidential Decree No. 1246, provides:
Section 8. Secrecy of Foreign Currency Deposits. – All foreign currency deposits authorized under this Act, as amended by Presidential Decree No. 1035, as well as foreign currency deposits authorized under Presidential Decree No. 1034, are hereby declared as and considered of an absolutely confidential nature and, except upon the written permission of the depositor, in no instance shall foreign currency deposits be examined, inquired or looked into by any person, government official, bureau or office whether judicial or administrative or legislative or any other entity whether public or private; Provided, however, That said foreign currency deposits shall be exempt from attachment, garnishment, or any other order or process of any court, legislative body, government agency or any administrative body whatsoever. (As amended by PD No. 1035, and further amended by PD No. 1246, prom. Nov. 21, 1977.)
On the one hand, Republic Act No. 1405 provides for four (4) exceptions when records of deposits may be disclosed. These are under any of the following instances: a) upon written permission of the depositor, (b) in cases of impeachment, (c) upon order of a competent court in the case of bribery or dereliction of duty of public officials or, (d) when the money deposited or invested is the subject matter of the litigation, and e) in cases of violation of the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA), the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) may inquire into a bank account upon order of any competent court. On the other hand, the lone exception to the non-disclosure of foreign currency deposits, under Republic Act No. 6426, is disclosure upon the written permission of the depositor.
These two laws both support the confidentiality of bank deposits. There is no conflict between them. Republic Act No. 1405 was enacted for the purpose of giving encouragement to the people to deposit their money in banking institutions and to discourage private hoarding so that the same may be properly utilized by banks in authorized loans to assist in the economic development of the country. It covers all bank deposits in the Philippines and no distinction was made between domestic and foreign deposits. Thus, Republic Act No. 1405 is considered a law of general application. On the other hand, Republic Act No. 6426 was intended to encourage deposits from foreign lenders and investors. It is a special law designed especially for foreign currency deposits in the Philippines. A general law does not nullify a specific or special law. Generalia specialibus non derogant. Therefore, it is beyond cavil that Republic Act No. 6426 applies in this case.
Intengan v. Court of Appeals affirmed the above-cited principle and categorically declared that for foreign currency deposits, such as U.S. dollar deposits, the applicable law is Republic Act No. 6426.
In said case, Citibank filed an action against its officers for persuading their clients to transfer their dollar deposits to competitor banks. Bank records, including dollar deposits of petitioners, purporting to establish the deception practiced by the officers, were annexed to the complaint. Petitioners now complained that Citibank violated Republic Act No. 1405. This Court ruled that since the accounts in question are U.S. dollar deposits, the applicable law therefore is not Republic Act No. 1405 but Republic Act No. 6426.
The above pronouncement was reiterated in China Banking Corporation v. Court of Appeals, where respondent accused his daughter of stealing his dollar deposits with Citibank. The latter allegedly received the checks from Citibank and deposited them to her account in China Bank. The subject checks were presented in evidence. A subpoena was issued to employees of China Bank to testify on these checks. China Bank argued that the Citibank dollar checks with both respondent and/or her daughter as payees, deposited with China Bank, may not be looked into under the law on secrecy of foreign currency deposits. This Court highlighted the exception to the non-disclosure of foreign currency deposits, i.e., in the case of a written permission of the depositor, and ruled that respondent, as owner of the funds unlawfully taken and which are undisputably now deposited with China Bank, he has the right to inquire into the said deposits.
Applying Section 8 of Republic Act No. 6426, absent the written permission from Domsat, Westmont Bank cannot be legally compelled to disclose the bank deposits of Domsat, otherwise, it might expose itself to criminal liability under the same act.
The basis for the application of subpoena is to prove that the loan intended for Domsat by the Banks and guaranteed by GSIS, was diverted to a purpose other than that stated in the surety bond. The Banks, however, argue that GSIS is in fact liable to them for the proper applications of the loan proceeds and not vice-versa. We are however not prepared to rule on the merits of this case lest we pre-empt the findings of the lower courts on the matter.
The third issue raised by GSIS was properly addressed by the appellate court. The appellate court maintained that the judge may, in the exercise of his sound discretion, grant the second motion for reconsideration despite its being pro forma. The appellate court correctly relied on precedents where this Court set aside technicality in favor of substantive justice. Furthermore, the appellate court accurately pointed out that petitioner did not assail the defect of lack of notice in its opposition to the second motion of reconsideration, thus it can be considered a waiver of the defect.
x x x."