2016 Philippine election candidates urged to waive secrecy on bank accounts

Corruption is and always has been a  major issue in Philippine politics. It becomes a hotter topic still, during elections.

Filipinos often hear the words , transparency, honesty, integrity, etc., being touted by new candidates longing for a new post, and by incumbent officials who are hoping to be reelected.

Alan Peter Cayetano, Rodrigo Duterte, and Chiz Escudero (Image Credit: GMA Network)

Now that Filipino citizens will once again cast their votes 56 days from now, candidates are pushing the envelope, thinking of ways to bag those precious votes. Some votes here and there might just up their chances to be in the winner's circle. Who wouldn't want that?

In the crowded race for the presidential and vice-presidential posts, the top three contenders are neck to neck, according to the latest surveys. Someone has to promise or do  something daring to stand out.

The tandem of Rodrigo Duterte and Alan Peter Cayetano have released a statement on March 13 that they have signed a waiver of their rights under the bank secrecy law. They are the first candidates to have done so and are challenging their rivals to do the same.

Meanwhile Senator Chiz Escudero have asked the same thing but on a broader scale. He dared not only national candidates but local candidates as well. He said all candidates including himself should waive their rights under R.A. No. 1405, otherwise known as the Secrecy of Bank Deposits or the bank secrecy law.

All three of them indicated that both local and foreign bank accounts of candidates, should be open for public scrutiny.

If challenged, we're sure all candidates would sign waivers too, including VP Binay whose numerous bank accounts in his name and alleged dummies were frozen by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) during the Senate investigation.

But do waivers of bank account secrecy really assure Filipinos that the candidate they will choose to vote for, will be corruption-free? Are banks the only way to keep ill-gotten wealth?

If you come to think of it, depositing in  bank accounts is just the worst way to hide the loot amassed from graft and corruption. A corrupt official is either too dumb, too lazy,  or too arrogant to think that his or her bank account will be ignored by investigators.

Hello? That's the first thing investigators focus on when they go sniffing around. We have to hand it to corrupt officials though, they are fast as lightning when they withdraw funds or close bank accounts at the first sign of suspicion.

Though it may sound good at the outset, to waive secrecy of bank accounts is not an assurance nor guarantee that a candidate or official will be corruption-free. It is easy to issue promises and guarantees of action, change, honesty, and efficiency. Fulfilling all those pronouncements may change when one is given a seat of power and influence.

As they say, if there's a will, there's a way. That goes both ways.  An elected public official who is really honest and upright will find ways to remain clean and incorruptible.

A corrupt and rotten one will find ingenious ways to hide his hoard of gold . For him, what is essential, is to  make it invisible to the eye.  (Sorry, Little Prince!)

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