May 18, 2012
Drilon bill transfers unclaimed fiduciary funds to Treasury
A bill proposing clear-cut guidelines governing the transfer to the national treasury of unclaimed fiduciary funds deposited by private parties in court has been recently filed in the Senate by Senator Franklin M. Drilon.
Senate Bill 3186, according to Drilon, also the Senate Finance Committee chairman, proposes to remit to the national treasury some billions of pesos worth of fiduciary funds which include those deposited by private parties to any court of law in custodia legis (in the custody of the law) to guarantee an obligation in favor of another private, as well as cancelled cash bail bonds.
"The Supreme Court has already acknowledged that such unclaimed fiduciary funds in custodia legis may be escheated or forfeited in favor of the government, through the Bureau of Treasury, provided that a law is passed for such purpose," said Drilon.
The transfer of such funds, added Drilon, will help augment the government's coffers to boost up key social programs being implemented by the government.
"Instead of being used to fund government projects that stimulate economic development and help the poor, these funds are currently abandoned, idle, and wasted," he added.
Fiduciary funds are funds deposited in court which are held in trust for the parties and litigants.
It can be recalled that the Commission on Audit, in 2008, recommended the remittance of around P4.8 billion worth of fiduciary funds to the national treasury.
However, the Supreme Court, in its 2011 en banc resolution, ruled otherwise and stated that "unclaimed fiduciary funds deposited by private parties, like unclaimed cancelled cash bail bonds, are private funds until escheated or forfeited in favor of the government in accordance with the law. At present, there is no law escheating or forfeiting such unclaimed fiduciary funds..."
Under the Drilon bill, to be known as the "Escheat of Unclaimed Fiduciary Funds of 2012," the chief of the Supreme Court's Fiscal Management Budget Office shall submit to the Treasury a statement, under oath, of all unclaimed bonds temporarily being held by the Supreme courts or its appellate or lower courts. This shall be done after the said office has communicated with the owner or beneficiary of the unclaimed fiduciary fund.
A copy of the sworn statement shall be posted in a conspicuous place in the premises of the Supreme Court for at least 60 days from the date of its filing.
The proposed measure also states that the Treasurer of the Philippines must regularly inform the Solicitor General about the existence of unclaimed fiduciary fund so that it can make appropriate actions.
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