Bangko Sentral Gov. Benjamin Diokno is confident of the approval of the proposed amendments in the Anti-Money Laundering Act to avert re-inclusion in the Financial Action Task Force’s “gray” list.
Diokno said there are windows of opportunity for Congress to give its thumbs up on the proposed measures before the President’s State-of-the-Nation Address in July.
Lawmakers are set to go on recess from March 14 toMay 3, and would have the sine die adjournment on June 6 to July 26.
The importance of the immediate approval of the amendments in the AMLA, as well as the Human Security Act, is based on the fact that the 12-month observation period when the country entered the International Co-operation Review Group would end in October this year.
The one-year grace period would allow the country to register progress on effectiveness and legal reforms to prevent being included in the FATF’s “gray” list, which contains countries with deficient financial system that makes them prone to risks on money laundering and terrorist financing, among others.
In 2000, the Paris-based FATF blacklisted the Philippines after noting insufficient efforts against money laundering, and the lack of law that would pin down individuals involve on terrorist financing.
In September 29 the following year, Republic Act 9160, otherwise known as the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001, was enacted into law and it took effect on October 17 of the same year.
On June 24, 2012, FATF elevated the country to the gray list due to the enactment of the AMLA, as well as the Republic Act 10168 that criminalizes terrorist financing as a stand-alone offense.
In 2017, FATF removed the Philippines from its watch list after the enactment of Republic Act 10927, which included casinos as among the covered institutions of the Anti-Money Laundering Council.
RA 10927 requires casino operators to record the true identity of their patrons and report to AMLC within five working days transactions of over $100,000 or its equivalent in other currencies.
Diokno is positive that lawmakers would see the need for more measures to further improve the country’s policies to safeguard the financial system.
He said the President has certified the proposed AMLC and HSA amendments as urgent during the Cabinet meeting that ended past midnight Monday.
“It’s an all government approach to act on the recommendations,” he added.