Congress fails to meet Duterte deadline in passing AMLA amendment

Published October 17, 2020, 10:14 AM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Two separate measures seeking to amend Republic Act (RA) No. 9160 or the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) remain pending in both houses of Congress despite having been certified urgent by President Duterte.


Based on copies of letters to Congress signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea given to the media Saturday morning, President Duterte sought the immediate enactment of the two proposed measures on October 16.

Duterte specifically wants the urgent passage of House Bill No. 6174 and Senate Bill No. 1412 which strengthens the AMLA.

The said measures took the backseat in both chambers of Congress due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, the House Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries said the global health crisis prompted them to change their priorities in legislation.

The said House Bill proposes to introduce more stringent provisions in the AMLA and has been pending with the House Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries since February.

Its counterpart measure in the Senate is also pending at the committee level.

Last year, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno said the Paris-based watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF) threatened to place the Philippines in the high risk and non-cooperative countries list anew if it fails to implement reforms during the 12-month observation period set by the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG).

According to Diokno, the FATF has required the Philippines to submit a comprehensive progress report to the APG focused on the implementation of its recommended actions after the adoption of the latest mutual evaluation report (MER).

The FATF has extended the deadline for its observation period to February 2021 from October 2020 due to the global crisis.

The watchdog had recognized that the pandemic made it “impossible for assessed jurisdictions and assessors alike to conduct on-site visits and in-person meetings.”