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Salvacion vs. Central Bank of the Philippines, China Banking Corporation and Greg Bartelli y Northcott G.R. No.

94723 August 21, 1997


Torres,Jr., J,: Facts: On February 4-7, 1989, Greg Bartelli y Northcott, an American tourist, detained and repeatedly raped Karen Salvacion, a 12-year old the victim, in the apartment of the accused in Makati City. That, on the 4 th day of detention, Karen was finally found by the policemen after a neighbor heard her crying and screaming for help. The accused was immediately arrested within the premises of the building, and eventually brought to Makati Municipal Jail. After thorough investigation and medical examination, the victim, as represented by her parents, together with the Fiscal filed criminal cases against Greg Bartelli y Northcott for Serious Illegal Detention and for Four (4) counts of Rape. The petitioners also filed a separate civil action for damages with preliminary attachment against the accused that had several dollar accounts in COCOBANK and China Banking Corporation. On February 24, 1989, the day there was a hearing for Bartellis petition for bail the latter escaped from jail. The deputy sheriff served Notice of Garnishment on China Banking Corporation but the latter declined to furnish a copy as it invoked R.A. No. 1405. The sheriff again sent a letter stating that the garnishment did not violate the bank secrecy law as it was legally made by virtue of a court order but China Banking Corporation invoked Section 113 of Central Bank Circular No. 960, that dollar accounts are exempt from attachment, garnishment, or any other order or process of any court, legislative body, government agency or any administrative body, whatsoever . The Central Bank sent a reply after a demand from the court asking if the Section 113 of Central Bank Circular No.960 is absolute in nature of which it replied in affirmative. After the accused was declared in default, the court rendered a judgment in favor of the petitioners based on the heinous acts of the accused and the grave effects on social, moral and psychological aspects on the part of the petitioners. China Banking Corporation refused the Writ of Execution of the court. Thus; Petitioners file a Petition for Relief in the Supreme Court. Issues: Whether the dollar accounts of the Accused is absolutely exempt from attachment, garnishment or any other order or process of any court? Held: While it is true that the protective cloak of confidentiality over foreign deposit accounts would better encourage the inflow of foreign currency deposits, lending capacity of the government and would help financial stability and the national development, what would be the relief of someone claiming damages against a person with foreign deposit accounts? More so against a person who heinously and feloniously committed an offense in the territory of the Philippines? As in this case, the accused deemed liable for the damages based of the heinous acts according to the testimonies of the victim and the witnesses. It is the duty of the government to encourage foreign currency deposits and to comply by giving confidentiality but in the correct argument of the Solicitor General, foreign currency deposits of a tourist or transient is not the one encouraged by PD Nos. 1034 and 1305 on the ground that said accounts is temporary and only for a short period of time. The application of the law depends on the extent of its justice. If we rule Section 113 of Central Bank Circular No.960 which exempts from attachment, garnishment, or any other order or process of any court, legislative body, government agency or any administrative body whatsoever, is applicable to foreign transient , injustice would result especially to a citizen aggrieved by a foreign guest like accused Greg Bartelli. Article 10 of the New Civil Code provides that in case of doubt in the interpretation or application of laws, it is presumed that the lawmaking body intended right and justice to prevail . Simply stated, when the statute is ambiguous, this is one of those fundamental solutions that would respond to vehement urge of conscience. It would be unthinkable that Section 113 of CB circular 960 would be used as a device by the accused for wrongdoing, and in so doing, acquitting the guilty as the expense of the innocent. The situation calls for fairness against legal tyranny. We definitely cannot have both ways and rest in the belief that we have served the ends of justice.

IN VIEW WHEREOF, the provisions of Section 113 of CB Circular No.960 and PD No.1246, insofar as it amends Section 8 of RA 6426 are hereby held to be INAPPLICABLE to this case because of its peculiar circumstances. Respondents are hereby REQUIRED to COMPLY with the writ of execution issued in Civil Case No. 89-3214 RTC Makati, and to RELEASE to petitioners the dollar deposit of respondent Greg Bartelli y Nothcott in such amount as would satisfy the judgment.