Press Release
April 6, 2016


Presidential race frontrunner Sen. Grace Poe said the government should embark on initiatives to fix the Philippines' banking laws and ensure that the country does not become a frequent destination of illegally-sourced money.

Poe said the recent heist, which saw some $81 million moved by hackers from the Central Bank of Bangladesh's account in New York to a local bank and casino junket operators in the Philippines, highlighted the need to amend the country's Bank Secrecy Law.

"Alam mo, iyan talaga 'yung nakakalungkot na nangyari. Ating bansa ay hindi dapat gawing lugar kung saan itinatago ang mga perang galing sa mga ilegal na paraan o mga hindi ma-eksplikang pinagmulan," Poe said in a Bombo Radyo interview in Cebu, where she was campaigning with running mate Sen. Francis Escudero Tuesday.

"Kaya nga po naniniwala po ako na 'yung ating banking system, kailangan maayos natin mabuti, na 'yung mga accounts lalung-lalo na 'yung ganyan, dapat ay puwedeng imbestigahan agad," she said.

Poe, a proponent of the Freedom of Information Act, said the government should give the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) more support so that the Philippines does not become a coddler of money launderers.

"Hindi puwedeng 'yung ating bansa ay gawin ganyan, dapat seryosohin 'yung mga tawag na ganyan. Palakasin natin ang ating intelligence agency sapagkat ang problema nga, katulad nung Anti-Money Laundering Council, yung kanilang empleyado less than 100. Meron silang two photocopy machines, nirerentahan pa," she pointed out.

With only 10 analysts keeping an eye on over 36 million transactions, Poe said it is impossible for the AMLC to do its job effectively.

In 2015, the AMLC flagged more than 146,000 transactions as suspicious.

The AMLC has a P98.23-million allocation in the 2016 national budget, some P51 million of which was earmarked for maintenance and other operating expenses, including training and intelligence-gathering.

In an earlier media interview, Poe said amending the Bank Secrecy Law was not a question of "if" but "when."

"The trend now in the world is having bank disclosures, not bank secrecy. This is to prevent also the funneling of money down to terroristic activities, drug cartels, etc. We should be one with the international community in preventing such activities," Poe told media after her presentation at the Makati Business Club on March 16.

The senator, however, warned that bank disclosures should follow very strict guidelines so that those in position would not use such allowances to find ammunition against their political opponents.

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