Uncovering ill-gotten wealth of government officials may soon get easier, with a proposed measure by Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson seeking to exclude them from the Bank Secrecy Law.
Lacson’s Senate Bill 47 effectively removes from all public servants the “protection” afforded by Republic Act 1405, which prohibits disclosure or inquiry into bank deposits.
“The avowed purpose of the law (Bank Secrecy Act) is meritorious in preserving the confidentiality of bank transactions. Unfortunately, this provision of the law prohibiting the disclosure of or inquiry to bank deposits had been exploited time and again to hamper and stall investigations of government officials and employees suspected of enriching themselves while in public office,” Lacson said.
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By excluding government officials and employees, whether elected or appointed, from the coverage of the Bank Secrecy Law, he said “law enforcement authorities will be equipped with the tools needed to go after crooks in government.”
He said his bill will amend Section 2 of R.A. 1405, to exclude from the protection of the Bank Secrecy Law all depositors who are elective or appointive officials or employees of the government, from the President down to the lowest-ranking employee.
Also covered by the bill are members of the uniformed services, as well as of government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs).
The present law, which was passed as early as 1955, covers “all deposits of whatever nature with banks or banking institutions in the Philippines.”
Exceptions to this include the written permission of the depositor, 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.