Press Release
June 5, 2012


Senator Teofisto "TG" Guingona III on Tuesday hailed the passage, on third and final reading, SBN 3009 that seeks to strengthen the existing Anti-Money Laundering Act.

Senate Bill No. 3009 allows the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to inquire into bank accounts and investments of suspected money launderers and likewise allows it to inquire into related accounts.

Sen. Guingona, who advocated the passage of AMLA amendment measures in the Senate, said this bill imposes Constitutional protections to balance the need to suppress criminality and protecting the rights of individuals by imposing the need to establish probable cause before an inquiry order can be issued by the Sandiganbayan or the Court of Appeals.

Under the bill, the court should act on the petition to freeze the account within 24 hours from filing of the petition. Likewise, no court shall issue a temporary restraining order or a writ of injunction against any freeze order, except the Supreme Court.

Sen. Guingona also noted that the approval of the bill in the Senate sends a positive signal to the international financial community that the Philippines is serious in ensuring that the country's banking system is bolstered by safe and legal measures.

"The international community classifies the Philippines as a high risk environment when it comes to banking practices. We strongly believe that an enhanced AMLA law would contribute greatly to a more positive perception of the country's banking system," he added.

Another bill, SB 3127 or the Anti-Terrorist Financing Bill is awaiting Senate approval on third reading on Wednesday.

SB 3127 also mandates the Anti-Money Laundering Council to investigate any property or funds that are related to financing of terrorism or acts of terrorism.

It also penalizes any person who assisted the principal of the crime by concealing or destroying the effects of the crime, or by harboring or assisting the escape of criminals. The penalty for these offenses is two degrees lower than the prescribed for the principals of terror financing.

"Since terrorism essentially depends on the financing it may obtain, it is a matter of grave and urgent concern to any reasonable government to criminalize the financing of terror. To financially paralyze any terror groups is a serious endeavor towards the more challenging goal of fully eliminating terrorism," Sen. Guingona said.

Senator Guingona is hopeful that SB 3127 will be approved tomorrow. A bicameral conference committee on SB 3009 will be held tomorrow morning at the Senate.

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