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The Philippine Senate will ensure the passage of amendments to an anti-money laundering law, a move seen to prevent the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) from downgrading the country.
“We are nearing the re-evaluation at least ng Asia-Pacific. So, we really need to fast track the passage. Otherwise, we’ll be skipping the Dark Gray list, we’ll go direct to being blacklisted,” Senator Panfilo Lacson said on Monday.
According to Lacson, the contentious provisions in the amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) is the expansion of predicate crimes from the original 14 related crimes to 25, in order to catch up with innovation being employed by criminals in money laundering.
Predicate crimes are unlawful activities whose proceeds can be subject to a money laundering case, according to the International Glossary of Key Money Laundering Terms and Acronyms, as indicated in the website of the Basel Institute of Governance.
"We have to catch up with criminals kasi they are so smart," Lacson said. "Kasi ang predicate crime, 7, now they want to expand it initially to 14, but today there are 25 predicate crimes. So, nagkaroon ng concern ang legislators, kalian matatapos ito. But the argument doon, we have to really catch up with innovations being employed by the criminals, kaya never-ending din yan."
(They wish to expand the number of predicate crimes in the AMLA to 14 but today there are 25 predicate crimes. So legislators have expressed concerns about the never-ending process involved in these amendments.)
But because of the nearing re-evaluation by FATF, Lacson argued that the amendments should be passed immediately and if not pass in due time, the Philippines will shoving away foreign investments.
Aside from impact on foreign investments, Lacson surmised that it will have a direct effect on the Filipino investments abroad and remittances of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).
“Pag blacklisted tayo, ang tatamaan aside from Philippine investors na gusto mag-invest abroad, ang mga OFWs, because i-scrutinize lahat na remittances nila,” he explained.
(If the country gets blacklisted, Philippine investors who wish to invest abroad will be affected and so will overseas Filipino workers.)
Under FATF rules, once a country fails to comply with its rules, it will be immediately blacklisted.
“Pag galing ka sa Dark Gray at na-upgrade ka sa Gray, pag downgraded ka di ka na babalik sa Dark Gray. That’s according to (BSP) Governor Tetangco. Didiretso ito sa Black List,” he explained.
(If you come from Dark Gray list and you get upgraded to Gray, if you get a downgrade, you won't go back to Dark Gray. You will automatically be on a Black List, that's what Bangko Sentral Governor Amando Tetangco Jr.)
“Right now there are only 2 countries at least in Asia na blacklisted, Thailand and Indonesia,” he added.
Meanwhile, Sen. Edgardo Angara also said that he will oppose the inclusion of lottery and casino operations subsumed under the AMLA bill because it was not practiced in the West, who are all members of FATF.
“That provision will kill the gaming business in Asia. Look at Singapore, when they introduced and set-up huge casino two years ago, it added two percent on their GDP (gross domestic product) and Macao is booming because of gaming and entertainment,” Angara said.