Bank Secrecy Act must not protect government workers–solon


LOOKING to boost efforts to “curb corruption,” Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson insists that all government workers “from the clerk all the way up to the President” must not be covered by the protection of the Bank Secrecy Law.

“Whether you are a janitor or clerk, all the way up to the President, you should not be protected by the Bank Secrecy Act,” the senator emphasized during a televised interview last Thursday.

Lacson referred to Republic Act 1405, or “An Act Prohibiting Disclosure Of or Inquiry Into, Deposits with Any Banking Institution and Providing Penalty Therefor.”

Section 2 of the law considers all deposits of whatever nature with banks or banking institutions in the Philippines including investments in bonds issued by the Government of the Philippines, its political subdivisions and its instrumentalities, “as of an absolutely confidential nature and may not be examined, inquired or looked into.”

However, the law provides exceptions “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.”

Lacson asserted the exclusion of government workers from the privileges accorded by the law will help curb corruption as government officials and employees who enrich themselves while in office will “have a harder time hiding their ill-gotten gain.”

In the interview, Lacson lamented the provision of RA 1405 prohibiting the disclosure of or inquiry to bank deposits has frequently been exploited to “hamper and stall investigations” of government officials and employees suspected of enriching themselves while in public office.

The Senator recalled filing bills in the last three Congresses to exclude public servants from the Bank Secrecy Act’s protection in the last three Congresses, including Senate Bill 26 in the 18th Congress.

Lacson laments that “unfortunately, these bills were not passed.”

“Once you enter government service, you should be excluded from the Bank Secrecy Act. Unfortunately, my bills to that effect were not passed,” he rued.

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