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(Article published in the January 24, 2001 issue of TODAY, Opinion Today Section)

Before the now famous "Second Envelope" recedes into memory, it is important to set the record straight: The Second Envelope was not volunteered by the Equitable PCI Bank. It was with the Impeachment Court under compulsion of law on the strength of two subpoenas duces tecum issued by Presiding Officer, Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr.

The initial subpoena

On 06 December 2000, four subpoena duces tecum were issued to the Branch Manager, the Head of Branch Cashiering, the Head of Branch Accounting and the Custodian of Records/Accounts of PCI Equitable Bank for the production of the microfilm copy of a personal check No. 0110-71451 issued on 05 October 1999 and the application(s) to open account, specimen signature cards, ledger and such other documents pertaining to Account No. 000110-25495-4. against which the personal check No. 0110-71451 was drawn.

Personal check No. 0110-71451, everyone knows by now, is a check issued by former President Estrada, under the name of "Jose Velarde" in favor of Jose Luis "Sel" Yulo (not to be confused with the prosecution witness Jose Luis Yulo who was formerly the president of the Philippine Stock Exchange) in order to fund the purchase by St. Peter Holdings, Inc. of the Boracay Mansion. The personal check was drawn against Jose Velarde's checking account No. 0001-110-25495. The specimen signature card relative to that checking account on its face bore a notation of a savings account No. 0160-62501-5, indicating that checking account No. 0001-110-25495 is in combination with savings account No. 0160-62501-5. There is therefore no doubt that savings account No. 0160-62501-5 pertained to checking account No. 0001-110-25495.

Since the 06 December 2000 subpoena from the Impeachment Court required the Bank to produce "documents pertaining to Account No. 000110-25495-4", PCI Equitable Bank had no choice but to deliver to the Impeachment Court the documents referring to both the checking account No. 0001-110-25495 and the combination savings account no. 0160-6251-5. There is no denying that even in the former President's mind, the two accounts pertained to each other. In Mr. Estrada's written instruction dated 04 February 2000 given to the Bank to fund his investment management account with the Bank's trust department, he told the Bank, signing again as Jose Velarde, "to debit my SA/CA No. 0160-62501-5 maintained with your branch in the amount of P500,000,000 and credit my Trust Acount ..."

The second subpoena

The second subpoena was issued on 10 January 2001 at the instance of impeachment prosecutors' request for a subpoena adtestificandum et duces tecum dated and filed on 08 January 2001. This time, instead of merely being implied, the production of S/A 0160-62501-5 was expressly required in the third paragraph of the subpoena. In response, PCI Equitable Bank, through its lawyers, Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz, pointed out to the Impeachment Court, that "the document referred to in paragraph 3 of the January Subpoena is enclosed in the Second Sealed Envelope" and therefore "all the documents sought to be produced through the January Subpoena are already in the possession, custody and control of the Honorable Court."

The assertion of chief defense counsel, Estelito Mendoza, therefore, that the second envelope was not subject of a subpoena was completely wrong. The contents of the second envelope were required to be produced by necessary implication in the 06 December 2000 subpoena and expressly in the 10 January 2001 both of which had the fearful injunction "FAIL NOT". PCI Equitable did not volunteer the second envelope. It had to be delivered to the Impeachment Court under compulsion of law.