SENATOR Sherwin T. Gatchalian has filed Senate Bill No. 2251, which seeks to mandate government financial institutions to open a bank account for every unbanked Filipino.

“While the Philippine National ID aims to address an individual’s lack of documentary requirements for opening a bank account, the government still needs to facilitate and strengthen the financial inclusion landscape in the country by facilitating the opening and maintaining of bank accounts that may be used for the delivery of the government’s public and social services,” Mr. Gatchalian said in the explanatory note of the bill.

“The bank accounts so created will be used for the delivery of the government’s public and social services, and will be linked with the Philippine Identification System,” he added.

Under the proposal, the accounts will be provided by the LANDBANK of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines “free from any opening and maintenance fees or charges” beginning on Jan. 1, 2023.

An account will be automatically provided for all those registered with the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys).

Those who are not PhilSys-registered may open an account with either bank using other government-issued IDs, and the account will be automatically linked with the PhilSys without need for the client’s consent.

For minors, their accounts shall be linked with those of their parents or legal guardians, according to the bill.

According to the central bank’s 2019 Financial Inclusion Survey released in July last year, only 29% of adults had access to bank accounts, leaving 51.2 million adults unbanked. This is an increase from 23% in 2017. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas