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Fact Check: Did a PH Senator Announce Binance Ban Date?

Photo for the Article - Fact Check: Did a PH Senator Announce Binance Ban Date?

Update: [BREAKING] Binance Blocked By SEC, NTC in the Philippines

Editing and additional reporting by Michael Mislos.

Viral TikTok videos featuring Senator Francis Tolentino announcing a regulatory body’s plans to ban the global cryptocurrency exchange Binance in the Philippines have been spreading across social media and other platforms.

In the video, the Senator said Binance will be banned “next week.”

Fact Checking: BitPinas has sought to verify the date of the Senate hearing during which Senator Tolentino made this statement. This is to clarify whether or not Binance will actually be banned “next week”, as the Senator said in the video:

Photo for the Article - Fact Check: Did a PH Senator Announce Binance Ban Date?
This video posted on February 4, 2024 implied that Binance will be banned “next week” which is sometime within the second week of February.

Tolentino statement on Binance in PH Situation

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During the public hearing for the Anti-Financial Account Scamming Act or AFASA, led by Senator Mark Villar, Senate Deputy Majority Leader and the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies and the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce, and Entrepreneurship, last January 16, 2024, Tolentino shared that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) would ban Binance in the Philippines.

“[With] the recent advancement in cryptocurrency, Binance will be banned next week, I think, by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. Napakaganda and very timely nitong measure na ito,” Tolentino mentioned as he expressed his support for the AFASA. 

The topic was not elaborated further as the senator had to leave for another hearing. Villar restated the request for clarification, and a spokesperson from the central bank clarified that it was the Securities and Exchange Commission planning to ban the platform. However, the meeting couldn’t obtain additional confirmation as there were no SEC representatives present at the hearing.

Nonetheless, it is important to note that the hearing took place on January 16, and the “next week” referred to by the senator should have been around January 23 onwards. The date and time can be seen in the Youtube page of this video:

Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies  (January 16, 2024)

Despite this, as it is now the first week of February, the Binance app remains accessible in the Philippines, suggesting that the anticipated ban did not materialize.

In late 2022, Tolentino along with Senators Sherwin Gatchalian and Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, urged caution regarding the increasing cryptocurrency adoption in the Philippines, warning the public about the risks associated with emerging investment opportunities. He supported the BSP’s action against fraudulent cryptocurrency schemes and advised investors to choose established and reputable cryptocurrency sites for their transactions.

Side Note: What is AFASA?

The Anti-Financial Account Scamming Act (AFASA) is an act that addresses the surge in cyber financial crimes, such as online scams, investment fraud, and loan scams. As the public hearing concluded, a technical working group (TWG) was formed to finalize the substitute bill for it.

What we know so far about the Binance situation

Photo for the Article - Fact Check: Did a PH Senator Announce Binance Ban Date?

In November, during an interview with BitPinas, SEC Commissioner Kelvin Lee revealed its plan to collaborate with the National Telecommunications Commission NTC to block unregistered cryptocurrency platforms in the country. This interview was published one week later.

After the interview was recorded, reports emerged that Binance admitted to violating the U.S. Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and has committed to paying a $4.3 billion penalty. The Philippine SEC also issued an advisory against the exchange for engaging in unauthorized operations. 

In December, amidst community confusion over the three-month ban deadline for Binance, Commissioner Lee clarified that the ban would come into effect three months from the issuance date, which was November 29. This would make the deadline by the end of February. 

However, he also indicated the potential for an extension based on feedback.

Consequently, an article by Atty. Rafael Padilla argued that the SEC’s attempt to block Binance’s website cannot proceed because the NTC cannot legally block access to Binance without a court order, citing constitutional issues related to agency-issued blocking orders. 

As of writing, there has been no recent information or update concerning the Binance ban. 

Current crypto regulation in the Philippines

digital asset security service provider rules

Last year, the SEC revealed that it would introduce Digital Asset Security Service Provider Rules as part of its broader initiative to establish a comprehensive legal framework for digital assets in the Philippines. These rules will specifically focus on digital assets considered securities.

The Commission also launched the Fintech Innovation Office and announced intentions to introduce comprehensive regulations overseeing Digital Asset Offerings (DAO) in 2021. 

Moreover, despite still not having a specific crypto legislation, the Philippines has implemented other regulations to oversee its growing cryptocurrency industry. Notable measures include the Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASP) license, fostering legal exchanges with transparency, and the BSP Circular No. 944 which set guidelines for virtual currency exchanges and ensuring financial system integrity. The SEC also has regulations on Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) to enhance transparency and legitimacy, fostering responsible growth. 

In addition, the Bataan Charter also designated the Freeport Area for cryptocurrency mining, promoting economic development and technological advancement. Further, Senate Bill 1041 aims to institutionalize regulations for digital assets, providing clarity and stability. 

Read: AML and Crypto Regulations | BitPinas Webcast 17

Recent News on Binance in the Philippines

Photo for the Article - Fact Check: Did a PH Senator Announce Binance Ban Date?
Binance Maverick Airdrop Blocked in the Philippines

Recently, Binance users in the Philippines have observed that features like airdrops, NFT certificates, and Binance Academy are inaccessible. Warnings about regulatory compliance now greet users attempting to participate in Binance airdrop programs. However, upon verification, the Binance referral program remains functional for users in the Philippines.

Before this, in December, Binance Filipino users wanting to participate in its ‘Swap to Win’ airdrop were welcomed with warning prompts noting regulatory compliance concerns. However, users globally have reported similar restrictions, with Binance clarifying that the Web3 wallet availability is restricted to specific regions to comply with regulations. 

Last year, upon receiving a warning from the SEC, Binance acknowledged the Commission’s concerns, emphasizing its dedication to complying with local regulations. The exchange also detailed proactive measures undertaken under new leadership to tackle regulatory issues.


Other Binance News:

This article is published on BitPinas: Fact Check: Did a PH Senator Announce Binance Ban Date?


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