SORSOGON CITY (BicolToday.com/10-April-2013) – Senator Chiz Escudero urges voters to demand that candidates execute an unconditional waiver of secrecy of bank deposits, the compliance for which would help form informed decisions on election day.
He issued the call to Filipino voters a day after issuing a challenge to government officials and those aspiring for public office including senatorial candidates to execute waivers on secrecy of their bank deposits to accompany the submission of statements of assets, liabilities and networth (SALN), BicolToday,com learned on Saturday.
“Di na uso ang magnanakaw sa tuwid na daan ni Pangulong Aquino. Naniniwala ako na mataas na ang batayan ng mga botante natin kung saan hanap nila ay mga tapat na mga halal na opisyal, yung hindi magnanakaw at walang balak magnakaw (Plunderers have no room in President Aquino’s straight path. I believe that Filipino voters now have a high standard on the officials that they put into office, honest people who shun corruption),” Escudero said.
“Candidates in the coming elections without exception should make public their financial records going by the dictum that working in government is a privilege and not a right,” Escudero stressed.
An investigate report had implicated several high-profile Filipino personalities mainly politicians as maintaining offshore corporations or trust accounts.
He said that owning assets in offshore tax havens is not against the law, government officials and employees are required to declare these in their yearly statement of assets, liabilities and networth (SALN).
Escudero said those serving in government – members of the Executive, the Senate and the House of Representatives, and the Judiciary, including judges and justices of the Supreme Court – should also execute the waivers.
According to him, he had filed a bill, Senate bill 107 or the Submission of Waiver of Bank Deposits bill, starting in 2010 that seeks the mandatory signing of bank waivers. The controversy involving the illegal use of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) funds prompted the filing of the bill.
It was refiled in the current Congress amid the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona, who issued a waiver on the secrecy of his bank accounts which was a major issue in the impeachment trial.
“I will refile the bill in my next Senate term. A similar waiver was required of Chief Justice Renato Corona during his impeachment trial and it only follows that all those in government service should be subjected to the same rules and standard,” Escudero said.
“The bill on the waiver of secrecy of bank deposits is the missing link to prevent public officials from using the banking system to hide plundered funds,” he added.
Escudero said he signed a bank secrecy waiver which was submitted to the Senate President a day before the historic verdict to convict Corona on his impeachment case was handed down on March 28, 2012.
The waiver authorizes the Office of the Ombudsman to open bank accounts for scrutiny of government agencies such as the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC). [BicolToday.com]