A formula for corruption

A formula for corruption"The SEC is at it again."


Santa Banana, the geniuses at the Securities and Exchange Commission are at it again!

Now they are targeting the extractive industries—mining and oil firms—by giving them until Jan. 1 next year to disclose their real owners. They accuse these firms of allowing dirty money to enter the country.

Recall that this year, the SEC implemented its Memorandum Circular 17 which would have required all corporations to disclose the ultimate beneficial owner or owners—defined as a natural person who ultimately owns or controls the corporation—in their General Information Sheets.

Almost instantly, as a result of this circular, corporations, listed or not, or those wishing to register as required by law, protested, causing the SEC geniuses to delay its implementation.

I have written against the SEC’s implementation of this controversial circular. I said it was illegal and unconstitutional because the commission would, in effect, be legislating something which only Congress can do. It’s a clear and perfect violation of the constitutional right to privacy. Imagine what this will do to our attempt to attract investments. It’s also a sure-fire formula for extortion of corporations suspected of hiding their true beneficial owners!

It seems that the SEC, composed of lawyers, does not seem to believe that what it is doing is contrary to the law and to the good of all.

Worse, even the Department of Finance seems to be supporting the SEC. I am really surprised at Secretary Sonny Dominguez!

An assistant secretary of the DOF was quoted as saying that the disclosure of beneficial ownership is an enormous task. “We appreciate its value in curbing illicit activities, and we agree with the SEC in this undertaking.”

Does the DOF not realize that the memorandum is unconstitutional, a violation of the right to privacy and a deterrent to President Duterte’s move to attract foreign and local investments?

The beneficial ownership declaration form requires the following information: Complete name, nationality, percentage of ownership or voting rights, residential address and tax identification number.

First of all, the memorandum requiring disclosure is a legislative act. Only Congress can do this. Don’t tell me that the SEC geniuses now think they can enact laws, when their only function is to regulate and implement laws.

Secondly, said circular is a flagrant attempt to violate our right to privacy. Aren’t the SEC lawyers aware of the definition of privacy by US Justice Luis Brandeis—“the right to be left alone”?

The memo needs to be scrapped!

President Duterte has been going on so many foreign visits just to attract investments. This circular will undo his efforts.

I have no doubt that the courts will restrain the implementation of this circular.

What surprises me is that the PH-EITI, the governing transparency initiative for extractive industries, also required the reporting of beneficial ownership in line with an international campaign to prevent the use of shell companies.

* * *

With no less than five big earthquakes hitting parts of Mindanao, I commiserate with the people down South.

I am sure the President is monitoring all these. He should take it upon himself to cut short his trip to Bangkok. His foremost duty is to the people.

I am not taking the President to task for attending the summit. It is important that he is there. But now it is time to return and attend to his people.

* * *

What is happening in Mindanao? Villagers are supposedly already begging for relief because help from the government has not reached them.

This highlights the need for the Department of Disaster Resilience.

Tingog Rep. Yedda Romualdez already renewed her move to have the DDR bill enacted. Let’s hope her colleagues will listen.

Victims are not supposed to be begging, Santa Banana!

Yes, we have the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council but I believe that a real department is necessary. It has its local counterparts, but all these are only ad hoc bodies.

In contrast, the DDR will be a permanent body. It guarantees a science-based approach and a focus on disasters.

The DDR would also provide leadership in the continuous development of strategies and systematic approaches to disaster prevention, mitigation, and preparedness.

Pass the law establishing the DDR now!

Topics: Securities and Exchange Commission , Department of Finance , Sonny Dominguez
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