House approves bill to protect financial consumers

THE House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a measure that seeks to ensure protection of financial consumers.

With 164 affirmative votes, House Bill 9054 or the Financial Consumer Protection Act authored by Leyte Rep. Henry Ong aims to protect the interest of financial consumers under conditions of transparency, fair, and sound market conduct and just, reasonable, and effective handling of financial consumer disputes that are aligned with global best practices.

The bill declares that the mechanisms will reinforce confidence in the financial market and foster stability in the Philippine financial system.

The bill mandates the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and Insurance Commission (IC) to enforce the provisions of the measure on all financial entities they supervise or regulate.

The Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) shall oversee the implementation of the measure through cooperative offering services such as savings and credit, provided that the implementation by insurance cooperatives shall be overseen by the IC.

Financial regulators shall also be given the authority to impose enforcement actions on their respective supervised financial entities for non-compliance with the measure.

The duties and responsibilities of financial providers include formulation, implementation, and oversight of a Compliance Management System (CMS) which shall provide the means by which a financial provider may identify, measure, monitor, and control consumer protection risks inherent in its operations.

Financial providers shall also adopt disclosure principles in their communications with financial consumers using clear and concise language understood by their target clients.

In addition, the bill states that financial providers shall establish a single consumer assistance unit to assist financial consumer on financial transactions concerns for free. This shall include handling of complaints, inquiries, and requests.