House seeks inquiry on looming ATM fee hike

Robie de Guzman   •   August 13, 2019   •   1569

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives is set to conduct an inquiry into the looming increase in the fee for withdrawing cash from automated teller machines (ATM) following the lifting of the six-year moratorium imposed by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

The lifting of the freeze on ATM fee hike has raised concerns among lawmakers that banks would jack up charges by as much as 50 percent based on the rates they proposed before the moratorium was implemented in 2013.

“We are worried that the forthcoming increases in ATM charges might harm consumers – the nation’s more than 58 million ATM cardholders,” Makati City Rep. Luis Campos said in a statement.

“Even more vulnerable are our estimated 4.1 million minimum wage earners. Many of them receive and withdraw their salaries twice a month through their ATM cards at the machine nearest them,” he said.

Campos filed House Resolution No. 210, which seeks the House Committee on banks and financial intermediaries to probe on the looming ATM fee increase following the issuance of Memorandum No. M-2019-020 by the BSP this year.

A survey of ATM fees shows that banks currently charge between P10 to P15 per interbank withdrawal transaction, and P2 per interbank balance inquiry.

Campos said these charges could jump to as much as P15 to P30 per interbank withdrawal or possibly even higher, with the removal of the moratorium.

In his resolution, Campos pointed out there now exists “a virtual monopoly in the network that interconnects all of the country’s 21,682 ATMs.”

ExpressNet Inc. outsourced its ATM network to BancNet Inc. in 2008, and BancNet and MegaLink Inc. merged their ATM networks in 2015, with BancNet as the surviving entity, while MegaLink has since been repurposed, Campos said.

“In this case, we are clearly compelled under The Consumer Act, or Republic Act 7394, to conduct an inquiry so as to safeguard the rights of ATM users,” he added.

House panel approves P1.5-T fund to create jobs amid COVID-19 pandemic

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 28, 2020

The House Defeat COVID-19 Committee has approved a bill seeking to provide a P1.5-trillion fund to create sustainable jobs amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

House Bill 6709 or the proposed “COVID-19 Unemployment Reduction Economic Stimulus (CURES) Act of 2020″ is set to fund infrastructure projects in rural areas to help curb unemployment amid the pandemic.

The CURES Act of 2020 shall also be undertaken with the “Balik Probinsya Bagong Pag-asa Program” and the immediate funding of CURES projects shall target the construction of health centers, school buildings, vocational learning centers, as well as improving fish ports and trading centers at barangay levels.

The House Bill is expected to be sponsored on Thursday (May 28) for its 2nd reading approval in the plenary on Thursday afternoon. It will have to go through a 3rd and final reading before it can hurdle the House.

Meanwhile, representatives of other government agencies such as the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) also endorsed the approval of the proposed CURES Act of 2020. –AAC

House solon wants charter change proposals shelved ‘indefinitely’

Robie de Guzman   •   May 21, 2020

Cagayan de Oro Second District Representative Rufus Rodriguez

MANILA, Philippines – Cagayan de Oro Second District Representative Rufus Rodriguez on Thursday said he will propose the suspension of deliberations on the controversial charter change (Cha-Cha) proposals amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Rodriguez, who chairs the House committee on constitutional amendments, said he is inclined to recommend to House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano to “shelve Cha-Cha indefinitely” to focus on discussing measures to address the public health crisis and help the Filipino people prepare for the ‘new normal’.

The lawmaker made the proposal following claims that the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and other advocates initiated moves to gather up to two million signatures in support of Cha-Cha.

“This is not the time for the DILG and its allies to relaunch their signature drive and renew their push for Cha-cha. They should postpone it until this health crisis is over,” Rodriguez said in a statement.

“So my message to Cha-cha advocates and their DILG patrons is: stop it, it won’t fly while there is a pandemic,” he added.

Rodriguez said pushing for Cha-Cha can wait as Congress will first have to attend to measures that will “save lives and the livelihood of our people.”

The DILG earlier denied it has launched a signature campaign for Cha-Cha, branding these reports as fake news. RRD (with details from Correspondent Vincent Arboleda)

Lawmaker files bill granting new franchise to ABS-CBN

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 6, 2020

Cagayan de Oro City 2nd District Representative Rufus Rodriguez has filed a bill that would grant ABS-CBN Corporation a new franchise.

On Wednesday (May 6), Rodriguez filed House Bill No. 6694 proposing to grant ABS-CBN a new legislative franchise for 25 years.

“In order to continue to provide uninterrupted and improved delivery of its services to the Filipino people, the franchise should be granted in the soonest possible time,” he said.

The House representative also filed House Joint Resolution (HJR) No. 30 provisional franchise to ABS-CBN until June 2022.

According to Rodriguez, this is while both the Senate and the House of Representatives “need additional time to review, assess, and determine whether or not ABS-CBN shall be granted a new franchise.” AAC (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)

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