Senate OKs one AMLA bill; blacklisting still possible

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate finally approved on third and final reading a bill amending the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA).

All 20 senators present approved Senate Bill 3009 on Tuesday, June 5. The bill allows the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to look into bank accounts of suspected money launderers without notifying them. Read the bill here: 

 

Principal Sponsor Sen Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, however, said the passage of the bill may not be enough for the Philippines to avoid being blacklisted by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The 34-member FATF sets international standards on fighting money laundering and terrorist financing. 

“Let’s hope it’s enough but I think, no and we need to fast-track the bills when Congress returns from adjournment,” he said in Filipino.  

The bill and two other measures are part of the requirements for the Philippines to avoid being blacklisted by the FATF.

The Senate is rushing to beat the FATF’s June 21 deadline. Congress will adjourn sine die on Thursday, June 7.

As of posting time though, the Senate is still deliberating on Senate Bill 3127, which criminalizes terrorist financing. The bill was approved on second reading Monday night, and may hurdle 3rd reading on Tuesday. 

The 3rd measure, Senate Bill 3123, is still in the period of interpellations. The bill aims to expand the list of institutions that will be required to report financial transactions to the AMLC. Those that will be added to the list include foreign exchange corporations, money changers and casinos, among others.

Senators have said that if the Philippines is blacklisted by the FATF, overseas Filipino workers will have a difficult time sending remittances home. They said business transactions to and from the country will also be delayed.

The AMLA amendments have faced strong opposition from some senators amid fears of invasion of privacy and political persecution. 

For more on the AMLA amendments and the economic impact of a blacklisting, read: Senate caucus; blacklisting feared. – Rappler.com