LIFTING of bank secrecy restrictions, as pushed by the Finance department and the central bank, will find ready support anew in the House of Representatives, the chairman of the chamber’s Ways and Means committee said in a mobile phone message last weekend.

The move had been pushed as part of a general tax amnesty program, but that amnesty law was approved by the past 17th Congress and enacted sans that provision, which was supposed to help taxmen verify asset declarations of those applying for amnesty.

“I support it… The House has been passing that measure but it gets deleted in the Senate,” Albay 2ND District Rep. José María Clemente “Joey” S. Salceda said.

“It will allow the BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue) to look into the bank accounts of taxpayers where it has probable cause to allege tax evasion.”

Senators did not respond to requests for comment as of Sunday afternoon.

For Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin E. Diokno, the measure “is a very important way to fix tax evasion so I’m advocating that.”

“It will elevate our status as far as anti-money laundering is concerned if we can have that passed… hopefully within the year or first quarter of next year. That is a major reform that has been talked about for the past three decades so sana matapos (hopefully this will be enacted),” Mr. Diokno told reporters last Friday.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said he is “determined” to see the measure passed within this Congress as it is “absolutely necessary for proper tax administration.”

“We’re not looking to pressure Congress. We’re just asking Congress, please give us the tools so that our tax authorities and other authorities can do their job…” — Beatrice M. Laforga