Sunday, February 12, 2012

Criminals are not STUPID: My reaction to Boo Chanco and Senator Chiz Escudero


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I have to rephrase the title: Corrupt government officials are not numskulls. They have optimum mental capacity to do what they do.

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The impeachment tribunal is having hard times opening Chief Juctice Renato Corona's dollar account at PS Bank for scrutiny. And the culprit? RA 6426: the Philippine Bank Secrecy Law. Section 8 categorically states that "all foreign currency deposits" are "considered of an absolutely confidential nature" unless the depositor agrees to divulge its content.


Now, having this stubborn law giving headaches to lawmakers, Senator Francis Escudero came up with an idea to re-live his bill in 2010 Senate Bill No. 1476, which would require government officials to waive their rights to privacy on all of their bank accounts, both domestic and foreign. Of course, all for the premise that such law could stop corrupt government officials from being corrupt.

And in our brief Facebook exchange with Boo Chanco, a prominent Philippine mainstream opinion-maker, he asked this:
"why don't we just make it standard and mandatory for all public officials to waive their privacy rights to bank accounts when they sign their oath of office/appointment papers? this is the logical conclusion for making them file honest SALN anyway. former PM Virata also mentioned this proposal to me yesterday and he supports it." (emphasis mine )
My immediate response was to ask him on what basis how his assumption came about and how it could guarantee effectiveness of such strategy. His response was that it would make it difficult for them (corrupt officials) to steal from public coffers. Is that so?

My Reply

My simple reaction is that, both Mr. Escudero and Mr. Chanco's argument follows a shallow logic. Here's both of these respected men are trying to say: keeping an eye on their bank accounts will keep them from stealing.  Well, I honestly don't know where that reasoning came from. Not from an enlightened mind I guess.

Bank secrecy laws are there to protect depositors from activities unfavorable to them. It is their single greatest tool to keep-safe what they claim they own. And there is no law prohibiting them from doing so. For if there is a law of such kind, they wouldn't think for a second keeping their monies in banks. What is the use? But since it is still safe to keep deposits in the banks, as guaranteed by the existing Bank Secrecy Law, they will entrust their wealth to banking institutions.

But they have an excuse to push the plan through. It would be intended only for government officials only and private individuals are not included. What? Is that a noble idea? That is irrelevant.

Here is why the plan to require government employees to waive their bank privacy rights is silly and ridiculous:
  • A corrupt government personnel does two things: Steal it and then Keep it. And he does these two things so excellently, fearing that by behaving idiot it could guarantee him time in jail.
  • Stealing and Keeping the loot are two different things. Relaxing the bank secrecy law for government employees will not keep these government thieves from being thieves. It will only keep them from being stupid enough to keep their loots in banks while there is a law that they know could haunt them back.
  • An open bank secrecy law is a signal for government crooks not to keep their monies in banks.As all other criminals, they have an excellent day-to-day IQ (something higher than lawmakers have). They will keep it anywhere else where laws can't reach it.  While law enforcers and lawmakers have laws, government crooks have common sense.
Though I am not a government official, much less not a corrupt one, I do know how to think like one of them, like a true crooked man, I can see how criminals compute the risk they are in. And the risk makes them evolve. They compute it. The genius in them is not like a stagnant and dying pond.

The disease is the government itself. It has grown too big. A new law, the one which Senator Escudero and Mr. Boo Chanco espouse, could just make government bigger even more.

I don't expect that a law based on some illogical reasoning could solve the problem. The bill should be defeated.

(One video of Milton Friedman discussing government corruption and laws. Ponder on this)

MonkeySocietyblog Philippines
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