• BSP charter amendment can impose danger to public: lawmaker

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    A proposed amendment to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas charter can impose danger to the depositing public, a lawmaker warned on Tuesday.

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    Kabataan Party-list Rep. Terry Ridon raised the issue of a possible “unlawful search and seizure” to an individual’s bank account once the provisions implicitly lifting bank secrecy are approved in House Bill No. 3112.

    “The proposed bill might constitute as an unlawful search on bank deposits so I think this must be threshed out first before this law is passed because we don’t want any law to be questioned again in court on the basis of constitutionality,” Ridon said after the meeting of the Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries.

    “There might be an unlawful search and seizure because a simple search over private property requires a court order,” he added.

    He also said that such provision can violate a person’s right to financial privacy and a corporation’s private monetary affairs.

    Under the proposed measure, the BSP will have the “authority to require from any person or entity… any data which it may require for the proper discharge of its functions and responsibilities.”

    It will also have the power obtain information on transactions between a bank and its parent or affiliate companies and look into their main activities, and to inquire into bank deposits and investment accounts.

    It will also compel an individual to ask for BSP’s permission if one intends to transfer at least 10 percent of his/her shares of stocks.

    Chamber of Thrift Banks Executive Director Suzanne Felix echoed the lawmaker’s sentiments and said that the Congress should carefully review the said provisions as it is a very “sensitive issue” that can be detrimental not just to the public but also to the country.

    “Yes it can [impose dangers], because can you imagine anybody can just look [at one’s bank account]that can cause cases of kidnapping, because you are exposing yourself there, [and]that’s the major concern of the industry,” she said in an interview with reporters.

    While Felix said that they understand the current bank secrecy laws ties the hands of the BSP in cases involving crime and corruption, she noted that the rights of the bank’s clients should be protected first.

    “But still I think have also to protect the right of the individual we’ll have to find the way to balance,” she said, adding that the proposed law might need an implementing rules and regulations otherwise, the bank secrecy laws should be amended.

    According to a study of the Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department (CPBRD), such authority to require data and information of the BSP can be abused.

    “It should be balanced to protect innocent individuals from the coercive power of the state. It could also deter prospective investors,” the study stated.

    The bill filed by House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. mainly seeks to recapitalize BSP amounting to P150 billion to be fully paid by the government in three consecutive annual installments.

    The research indicated that amendment of the BSP charter is just timely as the state bank has posted a steady decline in net worth and consecutive net losses since 2009. JHOANNA BALLARAN

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