Lately, unfair insinuations are being made that rural banks are being used as conduits for money raised from the illegal numbers game jueteng, which is both false and impossible.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and various legislations meant to strengthen the local banking industry makes the use of rural banks as a laundering tool for illegal gambling money impossible.
The Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001, likewise, gives authority to the Anti-Money Laundering Council of the BSP to demand reporting from banks suspected of engaging in a list of illegal activities including receiving deposits coming from the illegal numbers game.
The acceptance of money from jueteng is also considered under BSP rules as ground for undertaking regulatory measures since illegal gambling is among those considered under unsafe and unsound banking practices.
It would also be illogical for rural banks which mostly thrives from the growth of legitimate businesses in the rural areas to risk the reputations they have built up in the communities they operate on by allowing themselves to be used as repositories of illegal money.
Church prelates and rural banks have also been indispensable partners in assuring the overall well-being of communities in as much as rural bankers depends largely on guidance from Church leaders on the source of suspiciously large accounts.
The Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines (RBAP) is definite about bank transactions being closely monitored by both the management of the rural bank and government regulators and that only funds coming from legitimate sources are transacted with its members.
Vigilance through partnership
Allegations that bribe money from jueteng often occurs through bank transactions among rural banks because these banks dispense with detailed documents from clients was also absurd since the BSP had imposed strict monitoring rules on bank transactions which almost does not differentiate between small and giant banks to assure protection of depositors.
As a result of the sophisticated rules that they operate in rural banks now operate very much like the bigger banks, only at a smaller scale leaving no room for laxity.
The rural banking sector could not have grown to its present network of 600 rural banks and 2,100 in branches if they subsist on illegal transactions as alleged. An unethical rural banking industry that is being painted by such allegations also does not match the huge strides that the regulatory agencies such as the BSP the Philippine Deposit Insurance Co. (PDIC), and the Anti-Money Laundering Council have made in terms of rules rural banks strictly adheres to.
The vision of the rural banking industry is to be at the forefront of countryside development and the elimination of illegal activities such as jueteng that saps the meager resources of rural families away from productive use is by nature among the goals of members of RBAP.
RBAP joins the call for the elimination of the menace of illegal gambling in whatever form in the countrysides since these are obstructions to rural development since people are made to entirely rely on gambling as a means to improve their lives and in the process lose the already little money they have.
Efforts to assure that money entering the rural banking system comes from clean sources, however, would need the full support of concerned groups or individuals who may have positive proof of dirty money being deposited in rural banks.
RBAP and its members want to give assurance that they are one with the government and the entire nation in efforts to eradicate illegal gambling and cleansing the banking system of dirty money.
Such efforts to succeed, however, would need the assistance of those who possess the information that bankers would not likely have.
RBAP is one in the crusade against jueteng.