House seeks inquiry on looming ATM fee hike

Robie de Guzman   •   August 13, 2019   •   1045

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.

BSP on Yasay’s arrest for alleged violations of banking laws: ‘No comment’

Robie de Guzman   •   August 23, 2019

Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr.

MANILA, Philippines – The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Friday said it will not issue any comment on the arrest of former Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr., for his alleged violation of the country’s banking laws.

“The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas will not issue any comment as the matter is pending before the court and to do so would violate sub judice rule,” the central bank said in a statement.

On Thursday night, the Manila Police served a warrant of arrest to Yasay for his supposed violations of the provisions of Republic Act 8791 otherwise known as the General Banking Law, and Republic Act 7653 or the New Central Bank Act.

READ: MPD serves warrant of arrest to ex-DFA Sec. Yasay

Based on the information about the case, Yasay, together with five associates of the Banco Filipino Savings and Mortgages Bank conspired and aided each other in securing a loan amounting to P350-million for Tierrasud Incorporated which was partly guaranteed and secured by Tropical Land Corporation.

Yasay and company allegedly failed to report such loan accommodation to the BSP.

“The service of the Warrant of Arrest against Perfecto R. Yasay, Jr. is a consequence of the filing of criminal information by the Department of Justice before the court,” the BSP said.

“A judge issued the said warrant pursuant to the provisions of the Rules of Court,” it added.

On his Facebook account, Yasay denied the allegation, pointing out that he joined Banco Filipino in 2009, while the alleged crime was committed from 2003 to 2006.

Yasay served as Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines in an ad interim basis from June 30, 2016 until March 8, 2017.

MPD serves warrant of arrest to ex-DFA Sec Yasay

Maris Federez   •   August 22, 2019

The Manila Police District (MPD) Warrant and Subpoena Service-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (WSS-CIDU) on Thursday afternoon served a warrant of arrest to former Secretary of Foreign Affairs Perfecto Yasay Jr at his home in Makati City.

According to a statement issued by the MPD, representative from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Atty. Jonn Irvin Velasques appeared at their office and requested for police assistance to implement the warrant of arrest against Yasay.

The statement added that after proper coordination with the concerned police district, the team together, with Atty. Velasques proceeded to Yasay’s residence and served him the order of arrest dated March 8, 2019, issued by Judge Danilo Leyva of Manila RTC Br. 10.

The arrest warrant is for the former DFA official’s several violations of the provisions of Republic Act 8791 otherwise known as the General Banking Law, and Republic Act 7653 otherwise known as the New Central Bank Act.

Based on the information of the case, Yasay, together with five associates of the Banco Filipino Savings and Mortgages Bank conspired and aided each other in securing a loan amounting to 350-million pesos for Tierrasud Incorporated which was partly guaranteed and secured by Tropical Land Corporation.

Yasay and company allegedly failed to report such loan accommodation to the BSP.

Yasay was initially brought to the MPD for documentation and set to be transferred to CDS while awaiting commitment order from the court of origin.

On his Facebook account, Yasay denied the allegation, pointing out that he joined Banco Filipino in 2009, while the alleged crime was committed from 2003 to 2006.

He also stressed that he will not post bail until he is brought before the judge where he said he will question such act which he described as “an abuse of process” and a mockery to the justice system.

He also posted a picture of him taken by his wife while being processed for a mugshot.

Yasay served as Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines in an ad interim basis from June 30, 2016 until March 8, 2017. (with details from Lea Ylagan) /mbmf

House eyes holding marathon 2020 budget hearings

Robie de Guzman   •   August 22, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives is eyeing to hold marathon sessions for the immediate passage of the P4.1-trillion proposed national budget for 2020, House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez said.

In a statement, Romualdez said House members have agreed to work day and night from Monday to Friday to ensure that the 2020 General Appropriations Act will be approved by October this year.

“This will give the Senate ample time to scrutinize the budget approved by the House. Hopefully we can have a bicameral conference by early December, then approve the 2020 national budget before the year ends,” he said.

The House Committee on Appropriations, headed by Davao City 3rd District Rep. Isidro Ungab, has started on Thursday the deliberations on the 2020 budget bill with a briefing of the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC), the inter-agency panel that sets the overall economic targets, expenditure levels and budget of the government.

READ: House begins 2020 budget hearings

By September 12, Romualdez said the lower chamber would hold sessions on Thursdays and Fridays, past the regular schedule of Monday to Wednesday.

He added that the plenary session was also moved from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. to give way to four budget hearings scheduled by the Committee on Appropriations.

“We will hold four budget hearings daily at the committee level almost simultaneously. The hearings are scheduled at 9 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.,” Romualdez said.

“House members may have to shuttle between hearings in order to maximize their participation in the budget deliberations. I am thankful that all the House members agreed to this schedule, which is really a tall order,” he added.

The lawmaker said he had also approved the request of Ungab to allow the holding of committee hearings on the budget even after the plenary proceedings have started at 5 p.m.

“This means that the appropriations committee may hold budget hearings at the committee level simultaneous with the plenary debates on other pending bills and resolutions,” Romualdez said.

“This will ensure that plenary deliberations on other pending issues, such as the vital revenue measures, will push through even as we are working round the clock on the budget bill,” he added.

Under Section 71 of the House Rules, congressmen are deemed present in a House session if they are attending committee meetings authorized by the House committee on rules, which is currently chaired by Romualdez as Majority Leader.

Section 35 of the House Rules, on the other hand, provides that: “Only the committee on rules and such committees to which it has granted permission, may meet while the House is in plenary session, has adjourned, or is in recess.”

Romualdez said that under these rules, the committee on appropriations “may continue with their budget hearings while the House is in plenary session.

“We are invoking the powers of the Majority Leader, as Rules Chairman, to enable the House to tackle simultaneously all the vital measures included in the President’s legislative agenda,” he said.

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