MANILA, Philippines—Two weeks before Valentine’s Day, Sen. Pia Cayetano fought for the right of women to receive “luxurious gifts” from their loved ones as she called on her fellow legislators to come up with a higher threshold amount for jewelry purchases before these are reported to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).
Cayetano made the practical suggestion during period of amendments to the proposed bill increasing the crimes and transactions covered by the country’s antimoney laundering measure.
Cayetano wants the threshold amount to be higher than the proposed P500,000 for dealers in precious metals and in precious stones to be mandated by law to report the transaction to the AMLC.
“Allow me to speak as a woman. I don’t buy myself expensive jewelry. In fact, I like semiprecious stones. I like what you may call junk jewelry to be perfectly honest. But if a man were to give me jewelry I want it to be seriously good,” Cayetano told her colleagues.
No less than P.5M
“And so in my case, being a public official, it’s like telling me that I have to limit myself to something less than P500,000 so that my gift won’t be reported. I’m making light of this gentlemen. But that is the situation that you put somebody like me,” she said.
This developed as the Senate, with a proposed amendment by Sen. Ralph Recto, removed tax evasion from the bill’s proposed list of predicate crimes that would necessitate monitoring of bank accounts by the AMLC.
It maintained the bill’s provision on casinos and Internet casinos being required to report to the AMLC but with the provision, proposed by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, that it should only do so “when there is suspicion of money laundering notwithstanding the transaction being covered.”
The bill was also amended so that real estate agents are no longer required to make a report to the AMLC. Real estate transactions, however, should be reported to the AMLC if the amount involved would be P25 million.
Cayetano said her issue also goes to daughters, who otherwise would be given pieces of jewelry by their fathers during special occasions like Christmas.
No special someone
Senate Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, who was presiding over the session, then asked Cayetano whether there was still no special someone who would give her jewelry.
“I don’t have a husband and given that (threshold), perhaps nobody would give me a gift anymore,” Cayetano said.
Told by bill sponsor Sen. Teofisto Guingona III that the proposed provision doesn’t seek to prevent giving jewelry worth more than P500,000 but only requires a report to the AMLC, Cayetano said, “Who wants to report how much they gave me? Di parang pinresyohan mo ko nun (It was like you put a price on me).”
Asked what amount should be the threshold be for jewelry transactions, Cayetano said, “I ask the gentlemen here to be generous and think deep. No one has yet to give that kind of gift so I wouldn’t know. But it’s definitely not P500,000.”
“Let’s ask those who like to give these kinds of gifts,” Cayetano said.
Guingona said he expects the measure—the third of three Amla amendatory bills recommended by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force—to be passed on Monday.
The Aquino administration is pushing for the bill increasing the number of predicate crimes and transactions covered by the Amla to prevent a downgrade of the country’s standing in the international financial community.
A downgrade would mean stringent, even restrictive, regulations imposed on international transactions to and from the Philippines. Aside from affecting investor confidence, it is also expected to affect remittances of Filipino migrants to their families.