Press Release
June 5, 2012

New anti-terror bill allows gov't t crack down
on suspected terrorist accounts

The Senate has approved on second reading Monday night the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012 (Senate Bill No. 3127) which seeks to allow authorities to freeze funds and inquire into bank accounts of suspected terrorists even without a court order. The measure, which is certified as urgent by Malacañang, is expected to be passed on third and final reading later this afternoon.

Republic Act 9160, (otherwise known as the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001) originally states that the AMLC is authorized to freeze any account or monetary instrument upon determination that probable cause exists to freeze such account.

The bill, sponsored by Senators Teofisto "TG" Guingona III and Sergio Osmeña III, proposes revisions to the existing Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) that would include terrorist financing under its coverage.

Guingona said the bill defines terrorist financing as "any person who directly or indirectly, willfully and unlawfully provides, collects or uses property or funds, or makes available property, funds financial services or other related services" with the intention of supporting terrorist activities. In addition, the bill will criminalize the act of financing terrorist activities as "an independent punishable offense." "Approval of this important measure is a positive step towards thwarting terrorism by slashing its ultimate lifeline - financing. Criminalizing the act of terrorist financing is in compliance with our international commitments, in particular, the United Nations International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Financing, which the Senate concurred with on January 7, 2004," Guingona said. Another salient point of the approved measure allows government to run after those involved in international terrorist-financing activities, Guingona added. According to the bill, the Philippines may, "subject to the principle of reciprocity, consider the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism as a legal basis for requesting or granting extradition in respect of the offenses set forth under the Act".

"Unlike before when the government found it difficult to run after internationally funded terrorist activities, the government can now take action and request for foreign assistance, such as in extradition of suspects," Guingona said.

The approval of SBN 3127 is the latest development in the Senator's call for more anti-terrorist legislation. In a previous statement, Guingona explains that "it is a fact that terrorism is mainly dependent on funding, and approval of this bill is definitely a huge step in financially paralyzing the activities of terrorists and terrorist groups."

A similar legislation, House Bill 5015, which proposes criminal sentences to suspects convicted of financing terrorism, was approved by the House of Representatives last February. Along with SBN 3127, these new bills are expected to strengthen the country's defense infrastructure, in the light of a possible surge in terrorist activity due to the death of Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden. (Yvonne Almirañez, PRIB)

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