Fighting corruption: Let us become Heracles to overcome multiheaded monster
I thank Mr. Marvel Tan for his article contribution published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, titled “Cut corruption at the root like a hydra” (Letters, 8/24/2022). The hydra symbolizes the many faults, obstacles, and difficulties that people must conquer.
In our country, corruption is possibly the biggest bane in our life as a nation and the most pernicious obstacle to our achieving full human development.
Kapatiran Party henceforth supports reforms in our system of procurement or in Republic Act No. 9184, otherwise known as the Government Procurement Reform Act.
The party in addition is advancing amendments to RA 1405 or the bank secrecy law.
Said law provides that no one can access records of banking transactions except in two instances: via a court order or by waiver of the depositor. In this law, thus, lies the difficulty we have in going after grafters in government, rent-seekers in business, and elements of criminal syndicates suspected or accused of corruption. Herein, too, lies the perpetration of greed paid for by the poor.
A third and amendatory exception, therefore, is necessary in cases where the inquiry is made by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), provided that there is reasonable ground to believe that unlawful activity has been or is being committed and that it is necessary to look into the deposit to establish the same.
The results of the inquiry shall be for BSP’s exclusive use and shall not be made available except to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp., Anti-Money Laundering Council, Department of Finance, Department of Justice, and/or the courts, provided that the sharing of the results or examination of the inquiry is necessary to prevent or prosecute any offense or crime.
It has been said that 40 percent of people’s money is lost to corruption yearly. That is 40 centavos going into someone else’s pocket or, conversely, only 60 centavos going to public services. Income foregone by the government on the revenue side is tougher to estimate.
Those losses must be regained. They are an indispensable resource to fund better education, which only means more teachers, public schools, learning materials, scholarship grants, etc.; better health care only means more doctors, medical staff, hospitals, clinics, medicines, health insurance; better housing; and better infrastructure, all crucial to raising business confidence on which jobs creation and tax revenues rely, and to raising the country’s standing and competitiveness, regionally and globally.
When asked during a hearing of the Senate committee on banks in 2016 if the BSP would support a repeal of the bank secrecy law, then BSP chief Amando Tetangco Jr. replied: “Our main concern, Mr. Chairman, with respect to the bank secrecy law, is in terms of being able to ensure that existing regulations are being complied with. That’s number one. And number two, to provide some form of deterrent for possible fraud, unlawful activity, or irregularity…”
Speaking at a Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines special membership meeting in August 2022, the current BSP governor, Felipe Medalla, said the central bank was requesting and needed support for more authority so it could examine suspect bank accounts, particularly those possibly linked to illegal activities.
According to the International Monetary Fund, there is a compelling rationale for amending the Philippines’ unusually strict bank secrecy regulations so that law enforcement and financial regulators have complete and direct access to depositor information. It also said that the Philippines would be able to remove itself from the Financial Action Task Force’s “grey list” by revising governing bank secrecy rules.
The Lernaean Hydra, a multiheaded serpentine monster that Heracles must overcome in Greek mythology, symbolizes victory over desire and the primary movements of appropriation. Let us be Heracles.
President, Kapatiran Party
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