The Senate will start hearing the proposals to amend the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) to help boost the government’s efforts against the entry and flow of illegal money in the Philippines.
“We expect to have an all-hands-on-deck involvement of top officials of concerned agencies in tackling this vital anti-corruption and economic stability measure,” Senator Grace Poe, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Banks, Financial Institution, and Currencies, said in a statement.
“The sooner we are able to plug the gaps in the current law, the better it is for our financial system, so it will be insulated from the movement of dirty money,” she added.
The Senate hearing will be conducted jointly with the justice and human rights panel chaired by Senator Richard Gordon.
Poe said officials from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), Department of Finance, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Department of Justice, Department of National Defense, Department of Foreign Affairs, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., and Professional Regulation Commission were invited to the virtual hearing.
President Duterte recently certified as urgent Senate Bill No. 1412 seeking to strengthen and amend the AMLA.
The bill, authored by Poe, proposes to enhance the investigative powers of the AMLC and authorize it to implement “targeted financial sanctions” on proliferation financing and to preserve, manage, or dispose assets subject to asset preservation order and judgment forfeiture.
It also seeks the inclusion of real estate developers and brokers as covered persons; inclusion of tax crimes and violation of the Strategic Trade Management Act which indirectly includes proliferation of weapons of mass destruction as predicate offenses to money laundering; as well as the prohibition on the issuance of injunctive relief against freeze orders and forfeiture proceedings.
A similar measure was also filed by Sen. Imee Marcos.
“It is imperative to have the means in law to better combat money laundering, terrorist financing, and other related threats to the integrity of the financial system. A healthy financial system will have the capacity to absorb the impact of events such as the COVID-19 pandemic that heavily disrupted economic activities and displaced thousands of workers from their source of living,” Poe said.
The AMLC previously stated that the Philippines is in danger of being “grey-listed” by the Financial Action Task Force if the country fails to pass the necessary amendments to the AMLA by February, 2021.