Senator refiles bill requiring state-run lenders to open bank accounts for Filipinos

A BILL requiring state-run lenders to open and maintain bank accounts for every Filipino citizen has been filed at the Senate. — BW FILE PHOTO

A BILL requiring state-run lenders to open a bank account for every Filipino to fast-track the delivery of public and social services, such as aid for qualified beneficiaries, has been refiled at the Senate.

Senate Bill 808 or the proposed One Filipino One Bank Account Act authored by Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian and filed on July 25 mandates government financial institutions Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) and Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) to open and maintain a bank account for every Filipino free of related fees and charges beginning Jan. 1, 2023.

The same bill was filed in the 18th Congress but remained pending with the Senate Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies until the session adjourned sine die.

“The bank accounts so created will be used for the delivery of the government’s public and social services, and will be linked with the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys),” Mr. Gatchalian said in the bill’s explanatory note.

“Under this proposal, the distribution of aid will be made easier because financial aid will be directly deposited into the bank account of the beneficiaries and there will be no need to stand in line,” he said in a Tuesday statement. “Through this, our countrymen will learn to use bank and online facilities for various transactions, such as paying bills and orders, as well as savings.”

The proposed measure will apply to all Filipino citizens who are covered by the PhilSys.

Under the bill, the LANDBANK and DBP will automatically open and maintain bank accounts for Filipinos registered with the PhilSys upon presentation of their national ID.

For those not registered with PhilSys by Jan. 1, 2023, they may proceed to any branch of the two banks and submit other identification documents to open their accounts.

These bank accounts will also be automatically linked with the PhilSys.

Accounts for underage Filipinos and those unable to give consent will be linked to those of their parents, legal guardians or persons exercising substitute parental authority.

LANDBANK and DBP are mandated to coordinate with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) and other relevant government agencies and local government units to formulate a mechanism to implement provisions of the bill for a seamless transition in the delivery of public and social services.

The amount needed for the initial implementation of the proposed law will be taken from the current appropriations of LANDBANK, DBP and the PSA. Funds necessary for its continued implementation will be included in the annual General Appropriations Act.

“As faster coordination is expected from the barangays of each local government, the movement will become synchronized,” Mr. Gatchalian said. “This will prevent chaos and maintain order in the distribution of financial assistance to our countrymen in need.”

The lawmaker said the bill is also expected to boost financial inclusion in the country.

The country’s banked population was at about 56% of all adults in 2021, up from just 29% in 2019, results of the BSP’s 2021 Financial Inclusion Survey released last week showed. The central bank said this was the best two-year increase since it began to conduct the survey in 2015 and was driven by the accelerated growth in digital payments amid the coronavirus pandemic.

This translated to a 22-million increase in Filipinos with formal financial accounts between 2019 and 2021. However, 34.3 million adults remained unbanked.

The BSP wants 70% of Filipino adults to have a formal financial account by 2023. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan