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Escudero: Void secrecy of deposits

Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero on Monday  asked Malacañang to back his proposed legislation which seeks to lift the bank secrecy law for government officials and employees.

In a statement, Escudero said the measure is a crucial step to amending the restrictive regulation the government wants to relax for tax purposes.

“The President should certify it as a start. Start first with us who are in the government before the ordinary citizens,” said Escudero,  referring to Senate Bill No. 16 that he filed in July 2013. The veteran lawmaker also filed a similar bill in 2007 and 2010.  

“Public office is a public trust. Government officials and employees are accountable to the public.” Escudero said.  

To ensure that a civil servant does not use his position to enrich himself, Escudero said it is necessary that we put in place a mechanism that will enable the government to audit the finances of the civil servant.

Bureau of Internal Revenue  Commissioner Kim Henares said the government would support income tax cuts if Congress would amend the law to allow the agency to “monitor” bank accounts for “tax purposes.”

However, Escudero said Malacañang should also prioritize the bill that would require people in government to submit a written waiver of their rights under the law on the secrecy of bank deposits to “show its sincerity and willingness to consider lowering income tax rates.

“We in the government should set an example. We should lead in making public our wealth so that the public will not doubt us,” said Escudero.

Since 2010, Escudero has been submitting together with his sworn Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) a written waiver on secrecy of his bank deposits filed every year with the Office of the Ombudsman.

Escudero said SBN 16, if enacted into law, will enable the government to audit the finances of all civil servants, including the President.

SBN 16 seeks to compel government officials and employees, except those who serve in an honorary capacity, to submit a written permission or waiver in favor of the Ombudsman to look into all deposits of whatever nature with banks within and outside the country, including investments in government bonds.

The waiver will be submitted within 30 days from the date of their assumption of office.    Those who are already working in government upon the effectivity of the law will have to submit the waiver not later than 30 days from promulgation of the rules and regulations implementing the law.

Any public official or employee who fails or refuses to submit such waiver will be barred from entering or continuing the functions of his or her office.

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