Press Release
June 4, 2012

Drilon worried over possible decline in OFWs remittances
once gov't fails to amend AMLA

Senator Franklin M. Drilon today said that remittances from overseas Filipinos workers (OFWs) which reached $4.84 billion in the first quarter of the year- a factor for a 6.4 percent Q1 growth rate - may suffer decline if the government's measures against dirty money remain loose.

The Senate Finance Committee chairman also reiterated the urgent need to pass the bill amending the anti-money laundering act, as well as the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act, in order to prevent the repercussions of the blacklisting of the Philippines by the Financial Actions Task Force (FATF)

Failure to pass these two measures will put in jeopardy the "robust remittances" by millions of OFWs all over the world which contributed to a 6.4 percent growth rate in the first quarter of 2012, Drilon said.

"If we are placed in the blacklist, the remittances into the country are subjected to enhanced investigation and that will discourage our OFWs to go through the banks and regular banking system; instead, they will resort to informal sector with all the dangers of remitted amount being lost," said Drilon.

In 2011, the total remittances of the OFWs reached $20.1 billion, 7.2 percent higher than in 2010, Drilon noted.

"We must prevent the adverse effect on the economy if these dollars will not be included in our gross national reserves," he said, adding that if OFWs resort to informal ways to send money for their families, the national economy will not benefit from these additions to gross national reserves.

"I don't want to take the risk that the warning by the FATF becomes a reality and our OFWs are prejudiced," said Drilon. Moreover, Drilon seeks to retain his proposed amendment to Amla that allows the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to inquire into bank deposits without notifying first the depositors.

He emphasized that this specific amendment was a move to correct the erroneous decision in the case of People vs. Eugenio penned by Justice Dante Tinga when the Court ruled the AMLC, when it applies for authority to inquire into a bank deposit, must notify the depositor.

"If you notify the depositor before you inquire into his accounts, the next minute he will withdraw all those accounts. To me, that is totally wrong," said Drilon.

"The authority to inquire into bank accounts is nothing different to a search warrant. When you apply for a search warrant, you never notify the owner of the base where you're going to search. That's the same thing in an application to inquire into a bank account," stressed Drilon.

"We must act swiftly and decisively to provide stringent measures to avert illegal transactions involving money laundering," ended Drilon.

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