Senate ratifies bicam reports on discounted political ad rates, New Central Bank Act

Published December 3, 2018, 12:05 AM

by Patrick Garcia

By Hannah Torregoza

The Senate has ratified the bicameral conference committee reports on the bill increasing the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) capitalization and strengthening its regulatory powers as well as amendments to the Fair Elections Act or Republic Act No. 9006 which seek bigger discount rates for political advertisements in the media.


Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, sponsor and author of the measure, confirmed that the bill has hurdled the bicameral conference committee level and is up for President Rodrigo Duterte’s approval.

“Yes, after the enrolled bill is signed, it will be sent to the President,” Pimentel said in a text message.

Pimentel also said that the discounted rates for bona fide political candidates in ads, as agreed upon in the bicam are 50 percent for TV, 40 percent for radio and 10 percent for print “computed from the average of the published rates charged in the last 3 calendar years prior to the election.”

Senate Bill No. 1985 and its counterpart measure House Bill No. 6604, both mandate media entities to provide higher discounts to registered political parties and eligible candidates during the campaign period.

Senators have earlier lamented the prohibitive costs of placing political advertisements in TV, radio and print.

The passage of the measure into law, they said, will help voters become more updated and informed of the candidates they wish to vote for in the coming elections.

“Free expression of our people’s will is better ventilated during an election period if all those who vie for the votes of our people are undeterred in delivering their messages to their voters, especially if the deterrence is the prohibitive cost,” Pimentel had said during the sponsorship of the bill.

“Candidates and political parties participating in future elections will now have more opportunities to communicate their messages to the electorate in all forms of the so-called mainstream media,” he further said.

Pimentel also expressed belief that the said political advertisements are “part of the social responsibility of media outlets.”

“The purpose of these advertisements is to educate the electorate about the qualifications, platforms, and track records of political candidates,” he also said.

Increased capitalization

Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, chair of the Senate committee on banks, financial institutions and currencies, said the reconciled version of the measures Senate Bill No. 1297 and House Bill No. 7742, which amended Republic Act No. 7653, otherwise known as “The New Central Bank Act”, will increase BSP’s capitalization from P50 billion to P200 billion.

“The bicameral conference committee adopted en toto the Senate version except for one amendment,” Escudero said.

“They removed the tax provision that will go to the capitalization of the BSP and simply included the dividends that they will be remitting to the government which will be made part of the increased capitalization of the BSP,” he said.
The bill would now be transmitted to Malacañang for President Rodrigo Duterte’s approval.

In reconciling the disagreeing provisions on the versions of the Senate and House of Representatives, Escudero said the declared dividends would be deposited in a special account and earmarked for the payment of BSP’s increase in capitalization.

Such dividend payments shall be released and disbursed immediately and shall continue until the increase in capitalization has been fully paid.

“That’s the explanation for the abbreviated sponsorship remarks of the bicameral conference committee report,” said Escudero, one of the authors of the measure.

Senate Bill No. 1297 and House Bill No. 7742 which amended RA 7653, otherwise known as “The New Central Bank Act,” further empowers the central monetary authority’s mandate in protecting the banking system.

Once signed into law, the BSP’s expanded supervisory power will now include other categories of financial institutions, full flexibility to conduct risk-based supervision of financial institutions and more teeth in imposing administrative and criminal sanctions, to include forfeiture of profits from unauthorized financial transactions.

The BSP has also been granted authority to impose sanctions on transfers and acquisitions of substantial shares of banks and quasi-banks without its approval.

Under the measure, the BSP shall also have the authority to require from any person or entity “any data for statistical and policy development purposes” in relation to the discharge of its functions and responsibilities although the release of such data shall be subject to prevailing confidentiality laws.

These amendments will empower the BSP to effectively respond to the challenges and innovations of a globalized economy and better perform its constitutional mandates, according to the lawmaker.

The Monetary Board shall now be allowed to authorize, regulate, and have examination powers on entities or persons engaged in money service businesses.

“Indeed, an empowered BSP is indispensable in ensuring a competitive, robust, and inclusive economy attractive to investments and business that generate employment and promote inclusive growth and a financial system that will support a higher quality of life for Filipinos,” the senator said.

“Undoubtedly, there is a need to respond to contemporary challenges in order that the BSP shall remain effective in its conduct of monetary policy and supervision of entities within the financial system,” he added.

Other senators who authored the measure were Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon, Senators Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito and Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara.