Press Release
July 26, 2019

Exclude gov't officials from Bank Secrecy Law - De Lima

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima is pushing for the exclusion of government officials and employees from the bank confidentiality privilege in order to prevent corruption and ensure transparency in public office.

De Lima recently filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 374 seeking to amend Republic Act No. 1405, also known as the Bank Secrecy Law, by removing all government officials and employees from its coverage.

"By removing the bank confidentiality privilege of those in government, this bill will promote transparency in governance," she said.

"It shall also bring to the level of domestic implementation our commitment under the United Nations Convention Against Corruption to strengthen legislative measures in preventing and combating corruption," she added.

Under the measure, the bank accounts and local and foreign currency deposits of appointed and elective government officials and employees, regardless of rank, do not enjoy the privilege of confidentiality. Members of the military are also covered by De Lima's bill.

Notably, there is no need for court order or information filed, as long as there is reasonable basis for the said bank review, to allow for inquiry into bank deposits of government officials and employees under the proposed measure.

"Investigative bodies or officials with appropriate authority or mandate, in processes allowed under Philippine laws, are authorized to inquire into bank deposits of government officials and employees where there is ground that engenders reasonable belief that the funds involved are part or proceeds in the commission of a criminal offense," she said.

The former justice secretary underscored the significance of urgently passing the SB No. 374 to prevent corrupt officials from invoking the absolute confidentiality to bank deposits when hiding their ill-gotten wealth and anomalous funds.

"No person who serves in government should be allowed to breach or abuse an official mandate. He or she should always be accountable to the people at all times," De Lima explained.

If the bill will be passed into law, De Lima pointed out that any employee or officer of the bank who impedes, obstructs, or refuses to provide the required information can face imprisonment of not more than five years or a fine not more than 100,000 pesos or both.

De Lima filed the same measure seeking to exclude government officials from bank secrecy law in 2016 under SB No. 196, which was later substituted by SB No. 2226 under Committee Report No. 662.

SB No. 2226, which is a consolidation of related bills filed by Sens. De Lima, Panfilo Lacson, Aquilino Pimentel III, Miguel Zubiri, Benigno Aquino IV, and Francis Escudero, has reached second reading during the 17th Congress.

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