PDEA, AMLC tighten screws vs drug money
Drug traffickers and their financiers may find it more difficult to hide their assets now that the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) have renewed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) that defined their coordinating mechanisms against suspected money laundering by narcosyndicates.
Under the MOA signed on Tuesday, “the PDEA may request for financial information to support ongoing investigation into any violations of the antidrug law.”
“In return, the AMLC may enlist PDEA assistance in the detection and investigation of money laundering activities and other (AMLC) violations (among drug traffickers),” said PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino.
Pols and drugs
“A lot of politicians are already involved in illegal drugs and financing terrorism, so this is the focus now,” Aquino said.
According to AMLC executive director Mel Georgie Racela, the agency conducts financial investigations when the PDEA refers a case to them.
“When we complete the puzzle, we cause the freezing of bank accounts and properties, so this money gets removed from the drug syndicates which they [otherwise] would have used as capital for their drug business,” Racela said.
Based on the exchange of information and evidence between the two agencies, the AMLC then files a case, he said.
“The efforts and resources used by the PDEA in tracking down and arresting illegal drug dealers and manufacturers will definitely go for naught if we cannot freeze the assets of these criminals while they are being prosecuted,” Aquino said.
Aquino also noted that under the MOA, some forfeited assets of drug suspects can be “given back” for PDEA use since the agency “lacks budget,” especially in 2019 when 40 percent of its budget was slashed.
From 2011 to 2018, the AMLC has frozen a total of P2.037 billion worth of assets of suspected drug personalities, which included P819 million in 2017, and P810 million in 2018. Factoring in a thousand-percent markup, this translates to P18 billion worth of drugs “removed from the market.”
An example of the two agencies’ high-profile accomplishment was the freezing of convicted drug lord Peter Co’s P700 million in assets in 2017.
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