Divorce and the Philippines again landing in the gray list of the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) go hand in hand even if the issues are diametrically opposed. Why is this? Both issues involve the pockets of our honorable legislators in Congress. The Philippines is only one of two states in the world where divorce is still banned, the other being the Vatican. The latter’s reason for not legalizing divorce is obvious. In the Philippines, it’s still illegal because we have prominent politicians with extended families. Divorce would be a pain in their pockets because it gives their legitimate wives enough reason to leave them and get financial support in the process.
Emmeline Aglipay-Villar writing for the PhilSTAR points out…
The Family Code has long acknowledged the power of the courts to declare as null marriages that were void or voidable from the start. Unlike a divorce, in which it is recognized that a marriage took place, a declaration of nullity means these “marriages” never took place at all. For the most part, the grounds for nullity have nothing to do with the inner qualities of the persons involved.
The primary exception to this (other than deficiencies of consent) is the ground of psychological incapacity. If you were married to a person who was incapable of carrying out the essential obligations of marriage – say, a pathological liar unable to distinguish truth from fiction – the only ground you could use to expect relief from the courts would be psychological incapacity.
The motivation is the same in their reluctance to pass amendments to the bank secrecy law. Our politicos are extremely protective of their bank accounts for obvious reasons. It would make anti-corruption efforts a lot easier and it would also get us off the gray list of the FATF. Recall the hack on the New York Federal Reserve Bank where cash held in trust for the government of Bangladesh was wired to the country through the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) and then disappeared into the abyss? The most recent scandal is that of Wirecard, a German financial payments company which went bankrupt whose officials were found to have deposits in excess of $2.1 billion in two Philippine banks. This again landed the country in the gray list of the FATF.
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Bank secrecy is valued by fraudsrers, drug lords and terrorists because it enables them to move cash legitimately. For everything else, there’s Bitcoin. We are at the mercy of these “honorables” for the simple reason that they are protecting their own interests. Not ours. In the meantime, the reputation of the country and our financial system, suffers. The same is true for women who are caught in dead-end marriages. Not only do they lose out on opportunities for fresh starts, they also have to beg for support from their husbands who have moved on with other women.
We are in a quandary because our legislators will never work against their interests. Though we don’t run the risk of becoming a financial pariah, the country’s image as a foreign investment destination suffers. Unfortunately, we don’t have any future congressmen in the horizon who are morally-upright. They are in Congress because they want a share of the spoils. And so we continue to be stuck and be subject to their whims and caprices. All for the betterment of their collective pockets.
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