- Category: Top News
18 Oct 2012
- Written by Butch Fernandez / Reporter
Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. confirmed that “unresolved issues” snagged timely passage of key amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Act (Amla) required by global regulator Financial Action Task Force to avert putting the Philippines on the FATF blacklist of non-compliant countries.
“We [still] have so many issues to clarify and we want to put these on record during the plenary debates,” Marcos told Senate reporters after the Senate adjourned on Wednesday night without approving proposed Amla amendments expanding the coverage of the law to include Internet casinos, preneed firms, jewelers and realty corporations, among other groups.
Marcos maintained that the Senate was working on a “very complicated bill [that] is very important, it is very intrusive in the economic life of the whole country. It is really very important, but it is very complicated.”
For instance, he cited the concerns raised by Sen. Joker Arroyo about the potential violation of constitutional rights of individuals and firms targeted by Anti-Money Laundering Council enforcers, under the expanded powers proposed to be given to the council.
“Senator Arroyo is talking about the constitutionality of it,” Marcos said, adding, “There are many more questions” from other senators.
Sen. Sergio Osmeña III, who is co-sponsoring the Amla amendments with Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, earlier named Senators Arroyo and Manuel Villar among those who have manifested intention to further interpellate on the measure, stalling its scheduled approval on third reading before Congress adjourned for a two-week recess on Wednesday.
Guingona had informed the Senate that the FATF, which was set to meet from October 15 to 19, “will decide whether or not our efforts against the global fight against corruption and criminal money are enough. In two days, we might fall into the blacklist, formally referred to as the list of Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories [NCCTs].”
He said the Philippines was previously placed on the FATF’s dark-gray list because of “serious shortcomings in our anti-money laundering laws, a fact seriously recognized by the international community, by our Anti-Money Laundering Council, and by this representation.”
In a manifestation before the Senate adjourned Wednesday’s session, Guingona voiced fears the Philippines would “fall into the blacklist of the FATF and that its member-organizations will begin imposing sanctions against our country.”
He said that being on the FATF blacklist would “send a strong message to the international community that our commitment against criminal money is not supported by strong will to establish the correct policies and laws against those who steal from the government, those who profit from the destruction of the earth, from those who rob individuals and corporations alike.”
This also means, Guingona added, that any country now has the right to impose sanctions in the form of stringent requirements, and engage in closer, if not restrictive, scrutiny for financial transactions from or to the Philippines. “Transactions with Filipino individuals and corporations might be examined more closely precisely because of the suspicion that these could be [facilitated through] laundered money,” he said.
But Marcos said there are many issues that remain to be clarified. “We are not operating under an idea that there is a deadline, but we will work and continue to deliberate it. As I said, it is too complicated for me.”
He acknowledged that proponents of the bill have been warning about possible blacklisting of the Philippines that could adversely affect bank transactions and letters of credit, as well as dollar remittances of overseas Filipinos to their relatives here.