AMLC PUSHES FOR QUICK PASSAGE OF ANTI-TERROR BILL ‘TO AVOID GRAY-LISTING’
THE Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) said that the Philippines must quickly pass the new anti-terrorism bill to avert inclusion in the Financial Action Task Force gray list.
The AMLC referred to key gaps in the Human Security Act of 2007 that make the country non-compliant with UN Security Council Resolutions, despite the Philippines being a United Nations member state.
According to the council, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) saw lacks in the state’s existing laws against money laundering and terrorism and proposed actions, including amendments to the Human Security Act of 2007.
The AMLC further said these recommendations were proposed as amendments to the Human Security Act, and later incorporated in the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, which now expects President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature.
In a statement, the AMLC said:” If any or all of the proposed amendments are not passed and not implemented within the observation period, the country will be included in the FATF ICRG gray list, which will publicly identify the Philippines as a risk to the international financial system for having strategic deficiencies in its [anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing] framework.”
“The Philippines’ inclusion in the gray list will result in an additional layer of scrutiny from regulators and financial institutions, thereby increasing the cost of doing business, delaying the processing of transactions, and blocking the country’s road to an “A” credit rating,” it stated.
Moreover, the AMLC said the country must avoid problems gray-listing would bring to the economy, given the losses incurred because of the coronavirus pandemic.
But the council explained it is not sufficient to just pass the amendments into law since the country will be evaluated on technical and effectiveness compliance.
“The country must also demonstrate effective implementation of these amendments before the observation period ends in February 2021,” the AMLC said. “With the early passage of the ATA (Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020), the Philippines will be given a very good opportunity to implement the same and demonstrate progress in fulfilling our international commitments.”
Despite calls of lawmakers to review their decision, the House of Representatives submitted the enrolled bill to the Malacañang, and the President has 30 days after June 9 to either sign or veto the bill before it lapses into law.
The controversial bill, certified by Duterte as urgent, will repeal the Human Security Act of 2007 by providing more surveillance powers to government forces.
By June 17, the Department of Justice (DOJ) is expected to submit to the Palace the findings of its study on the bill.
Thousands of Filipinos, meanwhile, have opposed the measure, noting amendments that allow basic human rights violations in the Philippines.