Teodoro proposes lifting bank secrecy on candidates' transactions to defeat narco-politics

March 7, 2010 1:24 am 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, March 6 — Former Defense Secretary and Lakas-Kampi-CMD standard bearer Gilberto "Gibo" Teodoro Jr. on Saturday said one way of effectively neutralizing narco-politics is the possibility of reviewing the bank secrecy laws, which has become a convenient refuge for drug criminals and scoundrels in government.

"The laws on bank secrecy and confidentiality of tax returns were meant to protect the privacy of good individuals presumably from criminal syndicates. The law, however, has favored criminals and corrupt officials to a much greater degree because it has long provided protective cover by allowing the unscrupulous to hide the proceeds of their criminal act," he said.

The basic law on secrecy of bank deposits is the Bank Secrecy Law, which was passed more than 50 years ago and sought to encourage people to deposit their money in bank, as well as discourage hoarding which became a common practice during the Japanese occupation.

The law provides that "all deposits of whatever nature with banks or banking institutions in the Philippines, including investments in bonds issued by the Government of the Philippines, its political subdivisions and its instrumentalities, are considered as being of an absolutely confidential nature and may not be inquired or looked into by any person, subject to some exceptions." Over the years, subsequent exceptions have been allowed by other laws.

The 1989 Philippine Bar Exam topnotcher and Harvard-trained lawyer said a possible work-around solution may include stiffer penalties for banks in cases where a depositor's account is leaked to criminal elements.

The US State Department recently released its 2010 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, which stated, among others, that the Philippines drug problem continues to pose a significant national threat despite reports of a possible decline in the supply and demand of illegal drugs in parts of the country.

The report pointed out that "with the upcoming 2010 elections, there is fear that illicit narcotics funds may affect election results."

Teodoro said the dire warnings that narco-politics could influence the outcome of this year’s elections should not be ignored, considering that the country’s porous borders and undermanned coastlines have made it highly vulnerable to the dangers of illegal drugs.

The country’s erstwhile youngest Defense Secretary noted that owing to budgetary constraints, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) are understaffed and ill-equipped to guard the country’s 36,000-kilometer coastline.

As such, he urged the public to be vigilant in the campaign against illegal drugs.

Teodoro also called on the government to prosecute the politicians linked to illegal drug trade if they have evidence to pin them down.

He also stressed the need for more training for the country’s drug enforcement agencies to effectively go after drug syndicates, as well as the fine-tuning of laws to stop narco-politics in the Philippines.

"We must retool the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and other law enforcement agencies to prevent this from happening," he said.

Teodoro said providing more funds for law enforcement agencies and equipping them with better training in investigation techniques will minimize the incidence of cases reaching the courts which do not prosper because of procedural lapses by lawmen.

He added that the legislature must craft tougher laws that will severely penalize political beneficiaries of known drug lords or syndicates.

The Lakas-Kampi-CMD presidential bet also said this was the reason he was calling for the completion of the "Coast South Watch" project, which is being implemented by the Philippines in cooperation with the United States and Australia, to set up radars, maritime surveillance and patrols in the country’s ports, particularly in the porous islands of Mindanao.

The project, he said, would help prevent threats to the national security like international terrorism, and transnational crimes like human smuggling, illegal gun trading, and narcotics trafficking. (PNA)

LAP/LGI

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  1. How to Pay For Your Car Using Ebooks! on March 7th, 2010 3:34 am

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