An attempt to hasten the Senate deliberations on the third set of amendments to the country’s Anti-Money Laundering Act (Amla) was side tracked before the Christmas break when one of its opponents moved that it be returned to the period of interpellation.
Taking the Senate floor on the last session before the congressional recess, Sen. Joker Arroyo stressed his opposition to the amendments, saying Philippine banks—unlike everybody else involved in the laundering transactions—are not penalized for accepting funds from dubious sources.
Senate Bill No. 3123 seeks to expand the covered transactions and to increase the predicate crimes that would necessitate inquiries by the Anti-Money Laundering Council.
Last set of amendments
It is the third and last set of amendments the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force wants included to keep the Philippines’ from getting blacklisted in the international finance community.
“[My] opposition to this bill is that there can be no dirty money laundered unless there is a bank that will accept dirty money,” Arroyo told his colleagues after asking why Committee Report No. 145 on Senate Bill No. 3123 was already in the period of amendments in the Senate agenda.
Arroyo was told that the senators’ staff, including his own, were asked if it was OK to move the measure from the period of interpellation to the period of amendments without prejudice to the lawmakers who still wish to pose questions.
Senators question the bill’s sponsor on the provisions of the measure during the period of interpellation while the lawmakers propose changes to the bill during the period of amendments.
Sparing the banks
“In short, dirty monies are deposited with banks, but our Amla law does not punish the banks for accepting dirty money. So they accepted dirty money and who is the one made liable? Everyone else except the banks,” Arroyo told his colleagues.
Arroyo said he has shown the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, a news report of the Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation getting penalized by the US treasury and justice departments “to the tune of $1.2 billion.”
“That is almost P80 billion. That is the penalty for accepting dirty money. We do not have that here, there will be no money-laundering here if the banks do not accept dirty money. And then we will just forget it,” Arroyo said.
Arroyo had an outburst after he was told that a member of his staff gave what was supposedly his approval of the Senate moving the committee report on SB 3123 to the period of amendments.