Thursday, 16 February 2012 13:48
Citing recent developments and issues raised on the secrecy of certain bank accounts and the need to promote transparency and accountability in the government, Senate President Pro-Tempore Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada filed on Monday a bill amending the law governing foreign currency deposit units (FCDU) in the country.
Under Senate Bill No. 3120, Estrada introduced amendment to the four-decade-old Republic Act No. 6426 to include the “order of an impeachment court or any competent court on cases involving public officials charged with the violation of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act” as exception to the confidentiality clause of the law.
The amendment further provides that probable cause be established that the foreign currency deposit involved is directly related to the cause of action in the complaint.
R.A. 6426, otherwise known as “An Act Instituting a Foreign Currency Deposit System in the Philippines,” declares that all foreign currency deposits are considered of absolutely confidential nature except upon the written permission of the depositor.
The law, which was enacted in April 1974, states that in no instance shall foreign currency deposits be examined, inquired or looked into by any person or government office whether judicial, administrative or legislative, or any other entity.
“The said law is being used as an excuse and as a refuge to hide alleged illegally acquired wealth of public officials and employees,” Estrada said.
The measure shall cover all public officials, including those identified as impeachable officers, who may have engaged in corrupt and other criminal activities.
Article XI (Accountability of Public Officers) of the 1987 Constitution provides that the President, the Vice-President, the Members of the Supreme Court, the Members of the Constitutional Commissions, and the Ombudsman may be removed from office through impeachment.
Moreover, Estrada stated that the bill aims to discourage private individuals who may intend to hide their unlawful deposits by converting their illegal income into foreign currency deposits.
Senate Bill 3120 was referred to the Senate Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies for consideration.
Last Monday, the Senate, sitting as impeachment court, decided to honor the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the SC stopping the court from releasing Chief Justice Renato Corona’s dollar accounts with the Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank).
The prosecution panel accepted the impeachment court decision but stressed the need to amend the law on FCDU.
By PNA/ PIA9-ZBST
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