Press Release
October 28, 2020

Transcript of Sen. Grace Poe's Opening Statement
Senate Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies

In 2000, the Philippines was included in the list of non-cooperative countries and territories. To remedy this, Republic Act (RA) 9160 or the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001 was enacted the following year. In 2008, the threat of a possible grey-listing emerged so RA 10168 and 10365 were enacted in 2012 and 2013, respectively. This happened again in 2017 which resulted in the passage of RA 10927.

20 years and four laws later, we face another urgent period of review as to the efficiency of our current legal framework in the fight against money laundering. It is a global nuisance which we committed to address when we joined the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering.

This time around, we are at the tail end of an observation period where our commitment to a strong international financial system will be tested. It started last October 2019 and was supposedly due to end this month. This period was extended to February 2021 due to the pandemic. This is thus our chance to remedy the gaps in our laws.

Failure to address the gaps, revealed in the latest evaluation, would put us in the grey list. This simply means that the Philippines will become a high-risk jurisdiction in terms of financial transactions.

Such classification will have a negative impact on the economy and cost of doing business in this country. A grey-listing will subject Filipino nationals and businesses to enhanced due diligence for European Union transactions, and entail additional costs and paperwork for transactions made elsewhere.

The additional transaction costs are prohibitive, but the effect of a grey-list is possibly higher for our OFWs who will possibly suffer from higher remittance and interest rates.

Further, a grey-listing may prolong the timeline to achieve the "A" credit rating before 2022, as it can have an effect on price stability and perceived governance standards. Grey-listing also comes with reduced investor and lender confidence which may result in limited access to banking or financial services.

The following are proposed amendments in this bill: 1. Inclusion of real estate brokers and developers; 2. Inclusion of tax crimes and violations of the Strategic Trade and Management Act relative to financing of weapons of mass destruction; 3. Authorizing the AMLC to implement targeted financial sanctions; 4. Authorizing the AMLC to preserve assets subject of these orders; 5. Prohibition of injunction against the freeze orders and forfeiture powers; and 6. Expansion of the investigative powers of the AMLC to subpoena and contempt powers.

Note that we are not only required to pass these amendments but also to demonstrate tangible and positive progress in our anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing regime. The country's financial experts want us to treat this as a form of national economic emergency, the same way we treated the pandemic as a national health emergency.

News Latest News Feed