By Charmaine A. Tadalan

THE MEASURE proposing to establish a regulatory framework for Islamic banks may be among the bills that will secure final approval in the Senate this week.

The chamber approved on second reading last Tuesday, May 28, House Bill No. 8281 or “An Act Providing for the Regulation and Organization of Islamic Banks.”

Asked if the bill may still hurdle the chamber with two session days left in the legislative calendar, Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III said over mobile phone message, Sunday, “yes possible.”

If passed, a bicameral conference committee will no longer be in order, after the Senate adopted the said House measure without amendments, as sponsored by Senator Francis G. Escudero. The bill was principally authored by former AMIN Rep. Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman.

The bill, if enacted, will mandate the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to supervise, license and regulate Islamic banks like universal banks.

Aside from authorizing the establishment of Islamic banks, it also allows conventional banks to engage in Islamic banking, provided that a system that will segregate their Islamic banking units from their regular business is in place.

In particular, Islamic banks may perform such banking services as creating current, savings, and investment accounts, accepting foreign currency deposits, and acting as correspondent banks and institutions, among others.

The banks shall also constitute a Shari’ah Advisory Council to render advice and review applications of the Shari’ah principle.

The Al-Amanah Islamic Investment Bank of the Philippines (AAIIBP), provided under RA 6848, or the “Charter of the Al-Amanah Islamic Bank of the Philippines of 1990,” is the only bank in the Philippines authorized to offer Islamic banking services.

It has branches in Zamboanga, Jolo, Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Marawi, Davao, General Santos, and Cotabato.