MANILA - Sen. Leila de Lima wants to exclude government officials and employees from the Bank Secrecy Law "to prevent corruption and ensure transparency in public office."
"By removing the bank confidentiality privilege of those in government, this bill will promote transparency in governance," De Lima said in a statement Friday.
De Lima recently filed Senate Bill(SB) No. 374 seeking to amend the Bank Secrecy Law by removing all government officials and employees from its coverage.
Under the measure, the bank accounts and local and foreign currency deposits of appointed and elective government officials and employees, regardless of rank, do not enjoy the privilege of confidentiality.
Members of the military are also covered by the bill.
"Investigative bodies or officials with appropriate authority or mandate, in processes allowed under Philippine laws, are authorized to inquire into bank deposits of government officials and employees where there is ground that engenders reasonable belief that the funds involved are part or proceeds in the commission of a criminal offense," De Lima said.
The former Justice secretary stressed the urgency to pass SB No. 374, saying it would prevent corrupt officials from invoking absolute confidentiality to bank deposits if they are hiding ill-gotten wealth and anomalous funds.
"No person who serves in government should be allowed to breach or abuse an official mandate. He or she should always be accountable to the people at all times," De Lima explained.
If the bill becomes law, De Lima said any bank employee or officer who impedes, obstructs, or refuses to provide the required information can face imprisonment of not more than 5 years or a fine not more than P100,000 or both.