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Senate passes 3rd AMLA amendment

/ 05:47 PM June 06, 2012

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate on Wednesday approved on third and final reading Senate Bill 3127 or the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012 which will allow authorities to look into and freeze bank accounts of suspected terrorist groups without a court order.

SB 3127, sponsored by Senators Teofisto Guingona III and Sergio Osmeña III, amends Republic Act 9160 or the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001 which states that the Anti-Money Laundering Council is authorized to freeze any account only upon confirmation of probable cause to do so. The amendment would include terrorist financing in its coverage.

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Guingona said the bill defines terrorist financing as “any person who directly or indirectly, willfully and unlawfully provides, collects or uses property or funds, or makes available property, funds financial services or other related services” with the intent of supporting terrorist activities. The bill will also criminalize terrorist financing as “an independent punishable offense.”

“Approval of this important measure is a positive step towards thwarting terrorism by slashing its ultimate lifeline – financing. Criminalizing the act of terrorist financing is in compliance with our international commitments, in particular, the United Nations International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Financing, which the Senate concurred with on January 7, 2004,” Guingona said.

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The bill will also allow the government to run after those involved in international terrorist-financing activities, the Senator said. The bill allows the Philippines, “subject to the principle of reciprocity, consider the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism as a legal basis for requesting or granting extradition in respect of the offenses set forth under the Act.”

“Unlike before when the government found it difficult to run after internationally funded terrorist activities, the government can now take action and request for foreign assistance, such as in extradition of suspects,” Guingona said.

SB 3127 is one of the three bills amending RA 9160 which the Senate needs to pass in order for the Philippines not to be blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

The FATF is a Paris-based inter-governmental body which develops and promotes policies against money laundering and terrorist financing. FATF will be assessing the progress made by the Philippines in the fight against money laundering from June 18 to 22.

The other bills are SB 3009, which would introduce a new provision on ex-parte applications for bank inquiries and SB 3123 which aims to expand the coverage of the AMLA to several institutions and individuals like foreign exchange corporations, money changers, remittance and transfer companies, pre-need firms, casinos, real estate agents and dealers of precious minerals.

Earlier on Wednesday, the bicameral conference committee approved SB 3009 during the Senate’s Wednesday plenary session, said that the Congress agreed to adopt the senate version of SB 3009 as its working bill. The Senate, in its plenary session, approved and ratified the result of the bicameral meeting.

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TAGS: Amla, Nation, News, Senate, Senate Bill 3127, Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act
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