Senator Lacson files bill to remove drug pushers’ right to bank secrecy

MANILA — Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson filed Wednesday a bill that seeks to strip pushers, manufacturers, cultivators, importers and financiers of narcotics, of their rights under the Bank Secrecy Act, in support of the Duterte administration’s war on illegal drugs.

Under Senate Bill 1025, Lacson wants to permit the courts to order the opening or seizure of bank, financial or commercial records.

The measure is also called “An Act Authorizing the Examination of Bank Deposits, Accounts and Records of Pushers, Manufacturers, Cultivators, Importers and Financiers of Dangerous Drugs, Amending for the Purpose Republic Act No. 9165 and for Other Purposes.”

It allows the examination of bank accounts, deposits and records of pushers, manufacturers, cultivators, importers and financiers of dangerous drugs, in keeping with the Philippines’ obligation under the UN Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Vienna Convention).

Moreover, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Philippine National Police and National Bureau of Investigation may be allowed to ask for court orders for the examination of bank records of a person against whom probable cause is established.

Special divisions of the Court of Appeals that would issue such court orders shall be designated by the Supreme Court, one each for Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

Lacson however maintained that information acquired from the examination of the bank deposits shall not be used in the prosecution of offenses not related to the anti-drug law.

He said that seized, sequestered and frozen bank deposits and assets will be deemed as property held in trust by the bank or financial institution for the person and the government while the investigation or trial is ongoing.

If the person is found innocent, the seizure will be lifted and the bank deposits will be released. But if the person is convicted, the seized assets will be forfeited in favor of the government, he said. Azer Parrocha/PNA/