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Senate to relax bank secrecy law

The Senate banks committee is set to amend the Secrecy of Bank Deposit Law by lifting the confidentiality privilege on elective and appointive government officials and employees to help government stresses its anti-corruption campaign.

The lifting comes in the form of those in government mandated to sign waivers on their bank accounts so that government agencies can have a look at their deposits, Sen. Francis “Chiz’’ Escudero, chairman of the Senate banks, financial institutions and currencies committee, said yesterday.

The Escudero committee conducted yesterday a public hearing on three bills seeking to amend Republic Act 1405, also known as the Bank Secrecy Law.

“By removing the bank confidentiality privilege of those in public office, this bill will promote transparency in governance, and shall bring to the level of domestic implementation our commitment under the United Nations Convention Against Corruption to strengthen legislative measures in preventing and combatting corruption,’’ Sen. Leila M. de Lima, author of one of the three bills, said.

De Lima said the anti-corruption thrust and the constitutional mandate for accountability and integrity is defeated when government officials and employees are able to hide their ill-gotten wealth and anomalous funds by invoking the absolute confidentiality to bank deposits as provide by RA 1405.

Escudero said the measures seek to require all those in government to sign waivers so that government agencies could open their bank accounts.

So those who refuse to have their bank deposits known through waivers should not join the government service, he explained. (MARIO CASAYURAN)