THE CENTRAL BANK is proposing rules of procedure for its consumer assistance mechanism (CAM), mediation and adjudication of cases, a draft circular showed.

The draft rules posted on the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) website are in accordance with Republic Act No. 11765 or the Financial Products and Services Consumer Protection Act (FCPA), which strengthens the rights of consumers to equitable and fair treatment and the timely handling and redress of complaints.

The law authorizes the BSP, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Insurance Commission (IC) to enforce the law’s provisions and craft their own standards and rules for specific products or services within their jurisdiction, guided by internationally-accepted standards and practices.

Stakeholders are given until Aug. 22 to give their feedback on the proposed circular. The rules will not apply to concerns involving ongoing court cases, closed banks, and those not covered by banking laws or BSP rules, among others.

According to the draft, a BSP-supervised financial institution’s (BSFI) Financial Consumer Protection Assistance Mechanism (FCPAM) will be the first-level recourse mechanism for consumers who are not satisfied with a financial product or service. 

Complainants will first need to report their concerns to the BSFI involved. If dissatisfied with the BSFI’s handling of their complaints, inquiries, or requests within a reasonable period, consumers may bring their concerns to the BSP-CAM, the second level recourse mechanism.

“The BSP-CAM is primarily facilitative in nature and is aimed at clarifying financial consumer issues by allowing the parties to communicate with each other through the BSP,” the central bank said in the draft circular.

The central bank said complaints filed with the BSP must contain information and supporting documents showing the complainant has previously availed the BSFI’s FCPAM.

Financial consumers must use the BSP-CAM by submitting their concerns to the central bank’s Consumer Protection and Market Conduct Office or through electronic means. Complaints may also be filed at the nearest BSP regional office or branch.

The BSFI involved shall be directed to provide its answer to the complainant within 10 days after the BSP acknowledges the filed complaint.

The BSP-CAM will be terminated if the involved BSFI does not answer the complaint within the specified period, if the complainant withdraws their concern, if there is a voluntary agreement between the complainant and the BSFI to proceed to mediation, or if the complainant remains dissatisfied with the BSFI’s response and requests for mediation and/or adjudication.

“Mediation is an intervention by which the BSP, through its appointed or designated mediation officers, facilitates communication and negotiation between the parties, and assists them in arriving at a workable settlement which is acceptable to both parties. It is voluntary in nature and is a strictly confidential process,” the central bank said.

The mediation proceedings may be conducted in person or through online video conferencing and must be done within 30 days, without extension.

If the mediation is successful, the parties involved will sign a settlement agreement, which is final and executory.

“The settlement agreement may be enforced by a writ of execution duly served by the BSP Sheriff within a reasonable period but not exceeding one year from the date of the settlement. After the lapse of said period, the agreement may be enforced by an action filed before the regular courts,” the central bank said.

Meanwhile, if the parties are unable to settle their dispute, the mediator shall declare a failure of mediation and terminate the proceedings by issuing a notice.

On the other hand, adjudication will cover financial consumer complaints related to transactions that are purely civil in nature with claims for reimbursement not exceeding P10 million. Concerns must have gone through the BSP-CAM before adjudication.

“The quantum of evidence necessary for a finding of liability in cases for adjudication filed with the BSP is substantial evidence or such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind may accept as adequate to support a conclusion,” the central bank said.

A complainant may not file more than one adjudication complaint for a single cause of action, it added.

The adjudicator shall render a decision within 60 days from the date the case is deemed submitted for resolution. The decision shall be final and executory after 10 days from receipt by the parties, unless a motion for reconsideration is filed. — Keisha B. Ta-asan