By Mario Casayuran
Senator Panfilo M. Lacson is sad because his bill seeking to amend and strengthen the Bank Secrecy Law is not given attention and importance since he became a senator since 2001.
Lacson issued this statement after the Court of Tax Appeal cleared former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Lieutenant General Jacinto Ligot on his P428 million tax deficiency.
In 2005, Ligot, a former AFP Comptroller, and six others were accused of corruption involving P135 million.
Ligot was grilled by senators led by former Sen. Jose “Jinggoy’’ Estrada over allegations of being involved in a P300 million corruption case.
Lacson said that he has time and again filed a bill clearly stating that a person entering the government is deemed to have waived protection of the Bank Secrecy Law.
He said there have been many studies made on his bill which mandates that all government workers must be transparent in their responsibilities and functions.
This means the law is stricter on government workers than on persons not working for the government.
But the bills he has filed, when referred to appropriate Senate committees, have not even called to public hearings by committee chairmen.
‘’Natatandaan ko pangalawang ulit ko na fina-file ito. Hiling ko sana makarating man lang sa committee at madinig sa isang committee. Hindi ito nadidinig eh,’’ Lacson said. (I remember that I have filed the bill twice but they were never called for public hearing by a committee.)
Asked whether it is obvious that these committees do not want his bill, Lacson replied: ‘’Parang ganoon kasi parang walang interest.’’ (It seems to be so because they apparently do not seem to have an interest on it.)
When a bill is filed, the Senate leadership assigns it to an appropriate committee for public hearing. Its report will be submitted to the Senate floor for debate, and approval on second and third reading.
There is also a need for a counterpart bill of the House of Representatives.
Their individual bills, if approved, will be subjected to a bicameral conference committee meeting. If panel members can iron out the differing provisions of their bills, the panel chairmen submit their committee reports for ratification by the two legislative chambers voting separately.
Their reconciled bill will later be enrolled with the signatures of the Senate President and House Speaker. It will later be sent to Malacanang for enactment into law or veto.