Press Release
September 23, 2019

Transcript of Sen. Grace Poe's Opening Statement
Senate Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies
Sept. 23, 2019

The Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies, is hereby called to order.

Before we proceed to today's agenda, let me open briefly with some organizational matters. This is our first hearing for this Congress in this Committee.

For the record, during the Senate's Plenary Session last July 30, 2019, we elected Senators Sonny Angara and Win Gatchalian as our Vice-Chairpersons. The Committee Members are Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson, Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go, Sen. Maria Lourdes Nancy S. Binay, and Sen. Manuel "Lito" M. Lapid; and for the minority are: Sen. Risa Hontiveros and Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan.

We also have ex-officio members as part of our Rules of the Senate. We have Senate President Pro-Tempore Sen. Ralph G. Recto, Majority Leader Sen. Juan Miguel "Migz" F. Zubiri, and Minority Leader Sen. Franklin M. Drilon.

We will now move to the adoption of the rules. This Committee is adopting and subscribing to the pertinent provisions of the Rules of the Senate and Rules of Procedure governing inquiries in aid of legislation. These rules shall guide the operation and conduct of the meetings, hearings and investigations of the committee.

With that out of the way, I would like to begin the hearing proper by saying that it is an undeniable fact that the birth of internet and technology has made everything easier and possible. Maaari na tayong mag-shopping nang hindi pumupunta sa mall o umorder ng pagkain nang hindi tumatawag sa telepono. But we also cannot deny that this convenience has become costly.

Nitong mga nakaraang linggo, kasabay ng patuloy na pagtaas ng presyo ng ibang basic commodities, may nagsasabing nakaamba ring tumaas ang singil ng mga ATM fees. According to the banks, this fee increase is needed for service maintenance. Sa halip na convenience dahil hindi na natin kailangan pumunta sa bangko o maghintay ng banking day para makapagwithdraw ng pera, nagiging inconvenient minsan dahil blockbuster ang pila sa mga ATM.

And it's even worse for our OFWs who have to pay for additional charges when sending their hard-earned money to their families. Ang mga remittances na malaki ang ambag sa pag-unlad ng ating ekonomiya ay kakaltasan pa. Ano na lang ang matitira kung hindi naman natin pag-iingatan na hindi abusuhin ito.

The imposition of these additional fees is considered somewhat burdensome by a majority of our bank customers. That's why through Senate Bills 635, 438, 683 and Senate Resolution 96, we shall look into these fees and ensure that everyone's hard-earned money is protected through, maybe, we're not sure, legislation because this is just still a hearing, not everything is to be legislated...

Another matter we hope to address is the online lending fiasco which has unabatedly proliferated in the past few months. Apparently, there are certain mobile applications that make it easier for someone to loan money but require access to your contacts, camera, and other personal information before you can use these apps. Hindi alam ng mga kawawang borrower na gagamitin ang mga ito para takutin sila sa oras na hindi sila makabayad. These apps message people in your contacts or upload your personal photos without your consent to pressure you to pay your debt.

This is alarming. Not only is this a privacy issue, but also an economic and security concern, as this creates a financial environment that is disadvantageous to the Filipinos. Through Senate Resolutions 121 and 136, we seek to investigate these online lending applications and look into the legal mechanisms involved.

Financial scams such as these are becoming prevalent in the country. Hindi lamang sa online lending apps kung hindi sa digital assets o currencies. Bumalik tayo sa online, actually hindi din ako makapaniwala dito, may mga kakilala ako at empleyado na humiram dito tapos kukunin ang pangalan ng mga kamag-anak, mga kaibigan, mga ka-trabaho at kapag hindi nakabayad 'yun ang kinukulit o pinapahiya; so tinanong ko naman kung ano 'yung terms ng pagbayad, hindi nga rin ma-eksplika ng empleyado ko, 'ganun ang mayorya ng humihiram dito, pero sabi nga niya malaki na ang binabayad niya, mamaya ko na lang sasabihin kung anong pangalan ng kumpanya na 'yun.

Financial scams such as these are becoming prevalent in the country. Katulad na lamang noong nakaraang lingo kung saan, sa isang raid ng Bureau of Immigration, 277 Chinese nationals ang nahuli dahil sa diumano'y illegal cryptocurrency operations.

We welcome the digital economy with more than open arms. But there is a need to regulate virtual currencies as they can potentially be used for illegal activities, racketeering schemes and other business scams. Senate Bill 1041 and Senate Resolution 129 will help institutionalize and standardize the rules on the regulation of these virtual currencies.

This hearing is an opportunity to discuss possible legislation that would offer financial protection and security to Filipinos while enjoying the benefits of convenience brought by internet and technological advancement.

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