SENATORIAL candidate Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez yesterday proposed the adoption of biometrics in the banking system as a show of “malasakit” (compassion) to ensure that depositors’ hard-earned savings will not be stolen by fraudsters following the “Comeleak scandal.”
Romualdez, a former chairman of the Board for Equitable PCI Bank or the country’s third largest bank that merged with Banco de Oro Universal Bank in 2006 and known today as Banco de Oro Unibank, Inc., underscored the need to “toughen and strengthen” the banking system’s customer identity validation system from fraud.
“Kawawa naman ang ating depositors kung mananakaw pa ang kanilang pinaghirapang salapi na inimpok sa mga bangko. Kailangan ang agarang malasakit sa pagpapalakas ng ating sistema laban sa posibleng nakawan na mangyayari,” Romualdez pointed out after a massive leak recently from the database of the Commission on Elections, exposing more than 55 million Filipinos to fraud and other risks.
“Naglipana na nga ang marami pekeng IDs (identifications cards), pero ngayon siguradong tama na ang impormasyon na mailalagay,” Romualdez, a lawyer from the University of the Philippines (UP) and president of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa), lamented.
“With the Comeleak, our concerned banks and monetary officials should move with dispatch to strengthen our system against fraud like adopting the biometrics system to reinforce protection to our depositors. We have to step up our banking security measures and we need a much tougher customer identification system by adding biometrics system,” Romualdez explained.
The leaked vital information of voters’ personal data that were made online includes address, mother’s maiden name and others.
During his stint as bank executive, Romualdez also served as director for a host of stellar companies, among them Philippine Commercial International Bank, Equitable Card Network, EBC Investments, Inc., Equitable Savings Bank, PCI Leasing Corporation, and PCI Capital Corporation, among others.
Romualdez finished his undergraduate studies with a degree in Bachelor of Arts in Government from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York in 1985 and obtained in 1988 a Certificate of Special Studies in Administration and Management from the Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts
Romualdez said concerned bodies should move quickly on improving the banking system by implementing safeguards that would protect their clients, including credit card users from abuse and fraud.
He expressed strong belief that potential fraudsters are now “feasting” on the vital information of 55 million Filipinos as an offshoot of the recent breach in the Comelec database.
“The reforms and safeguards to be implemented in the banking system should be made immediately because potential fraudsters are now feasting on a buffet of sensitive and vital information of millions of Filipinos,” Romualdez stressed. “The banks’ requests for additional proof in establishing the real identity of their clients must be established.”
“This is a very serious concern and alarming. Our banking system must fortify the identification process on the true identity of their customers,” Romualdez, head of the House Independent Bloc and a three-term congressman who is running for the Senate under a platform anchored on compassionate governance, explained.
Romualdez also advised bank clients “to do away with passwords derived from their personal data.”
“They should change their passwords because most likely, these were already compromised by the Comeleak scandal,” said Romualdez.
“The people should think twice or be careful in giving personal information in their daily transactions,” Romualdez added.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is now hunting down the accomplices, believed to be members of the hacker group Anonymous Philippines, of Paul Biteng, 23, a new graduate of information technology, who was arrested in his home in Manila for hacking the Comelec’s website last month.
Presidential frontrunner Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte adopted Romualdez, head of the House Independent Bloc and a three-term congressman who is running for the Senate under a platform anchored on compassionate governance, as one of his guest senatorial candidates for sharing similar platforms of government in ensuring peace and order, curbing graft and corruption, giving free colleges education, improving health services, institutionalizing and expanding the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), and among others.
Romualdez ran unopposed in the last polls and a former chairman of the House committee on ethics and privileges.
Romualdez, who has been endorsed by former President-turned reelectionist Manila City Mayor Erap Estrada, is focused on improving jobs, health, education, agriculture and disaster preparedness.
Romualdez is also a shared senatorial candidates of Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay and Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago and has been endorsed by the 40-man Party-list Coalition Foundation Inc. (PCF) and the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) or the country’s second largest political party.
Romualdez was virtually endorsed by presidential candidate Sen. Grace Poe because of his “malasakit” advocacies had he not come late and been endorsed by other presidential candidates.