Senate hits ‘dictates’ on dirty money bill | Inquirer News
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Senate hits ‘dictates’ on dirty money bill

By: - Correspondent / @melvingasconINQ
/ 05:46 AM December 18, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Senators have aired their displeasure over what they described as an attempt by Malacañang to dictate how Congress is supposed to craft a pending measure on money laundering.

President Rodrigo Duterte sent a letter to the Senate dated Dec. 15, certifying the urgency of Senate Bill No. 1945, which seeks to amend Republic Act No. 9160, or the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA).

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The letter said the measure is intended to “address strategic deficiencies in [the government’s efforts against] money laundering and … terrorism … and [to] avoid adverse findings against the country.”

The letter also cited the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international organization monitoring money laundering, which placed the Philippines on its “gray list.”

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Mr. Duterte said this could have “repercussions [on] the national economy.”

‘Separation of powers’

The President’s certification letter included a proposal that Congress reduce the threshold for tax crimes to P20 million, and to grant additional investigative powers to the Anti-Money Laundering Council.

These proposals were adopted by the House of Representatives in House Bill No. 7904, Duterte said.

“I believe that these provisions are essential to achieving the objectives of this bill,” he said in his letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Inquirer.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said of the letter on Wednesday: “Some of us have been here long enough to realize that, yes, indeed there are times when the executive department would whisper their wishes on certain pieces of legislation, but it is never written down in black and white. This is the first time that it is done.”

“And I don’t think it will qualify as a letter of certification, as far as the Senate is concerned, because it violates the separation of powers,” he added.

‘Pushover’

Sen. Grace Poe said the letter “basically tells us to pass [the House] version,” adding that “it is almost bordering on telling us what provision[s] should be included.”

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“I don’t think it would be through the democratic process if we just pass this bill based on what is written in this certification,” Poe said further.

Sen. Richard Gordon said the Philippine government is being turned into a “pushover” by the FATF.

He aired his concern over the expanding coverage of the AMLA to include small businesses.

“It is being weaponized against innocent civilians who are trying to eke out an existence,” he said.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who raised the query on how the Senate should approach the President’s certification, said the Senate does not intend to show contempt at Malacañang even if it does not conform with the conditions set in the President’s letter.

“In other words, without showing any sign of disrespect to Malacañang, we will just do our job,” he said, addressing his colleagues.

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TAGS: Amla, AMLC, FATF, Legislation, Malacañang, Money Laundering, Senate
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