Press Release
September 30, 2009


The Pre-Need Code approved by a special Senate and House committee needs changing to protect the public from scam artists instead of protecting big business, Sen. Mar Roxas insisted Wednesday.

Roxas, who has led the fight against pre-need scams that have victimized millions of Filipinos since the 13th Congress, said he cannot support the bicameral version of the proposed new law because the burden of protecting the public is left to the public themselves.

Among others, Roxas proposed that the draft law be revised to include a provision that would ban officers or directors of bankrupt or closed pre-need companies from engaging in the same business or working for another pre-need firm.

"A simple provision that says: 'Any officer, director, shareholder, principal, of any pre-need firm that is presently in bankruptcy is hereby prohibited from engaging in the business', a simple provision to that matter would have sufficed but it's not present. That's why I am saying I find it insufficient as a protection," he said.

The proposed measure bans from being an officer, employee, director or consultant anyone who has been convicted of any crime involving any pre-need plan; anyone convicted of an offense involving moral turpitude or involving fraud, embezzlement, estafa or theft; anyone enjoined by the court from being a director or an officer or employee; anyone found by the Insurance Commission to have violated or willfully aided or abetted the violation of the Pre-Need Code; anyone judicially declared to be insolvent or incapacitated to contract; and anyone found guilty by a foreign court.

"I have grave reservations to this Pre-Need Code of the Philippines because I believe it would be insufficient to fully protect our people who trust the companies who are selling in this field," Roxas said.

"The fact that the leaders of the industry support this is an indication that it is probably not as strict as it could be," he added during his interpellation Tuesday night for the ratification of the approved bicameral version of the measure.

The Senate Trade and Commerce Committee, which Roxas chairs, had been investigating the reported financial collapse of the pre-need industry allegedly due to mishandling of policyholders' trust funds, which has been blamed on lenient government regulation of the industry.

The Visayan senator insisted the new law should give government more teeth in guarding against scrupulous business entities who bleed dry parents who entrust their life savings on companies which they believe could assure their children's education.

"This industry and any regulation ought to protect the consumer. It is not there to protect the business itself," he stressed.

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