AMLC steps up fight vs terror financing

The Philippine Star
AMLC steps up fight vs terror financing
Mel Georgie Racela, executive director of the AMLC Secretariat, issued Regulatory Issuance 4 regarding the freeze order for potential target matches under the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) consolidated lists.
Geremy Pintolo / File

MANILA, Philippines — The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) has stepped up its campaign against dirty money and financing of terrorism in the country in its bid to avoid the gray list of Paris-based global watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

Mel Georgie Racela, executive director of the AMLC Secretariat, issued Regulatory Issuance 4 regarding the freeze order for potential target matches under the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) consolidated lists.

Racela said the AMLC has promulgated the sanction guidelines related to terrorism and terrorism financing in accordance with Republic Act 10168, also known as the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012 (TFPSA).

He added the regulatory issuance would assist covered persons under the RA 9160 or the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001 in the implementation of the targeted financial sanctions requirements.

The guidelines, according to the AMLC, would help the country adhere to international commitments to combat financing of terrorism particularly to the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism as well as other binding terrorism related resolutions of the UNSC.

Racela said the guidelines reinforce the fight against terrorism by preventing and suppressing the commission through freezing and forfeiture of property of funds while protecting human rights.

The guidelines authorize the AMLC, either upon its own initiative or at the request of the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC), to issue an ex parte order to freeze without delay property or funds that are in any way related to financing of terrorists or acts of terrorism, property or funds of any person, terrorist organizations in relation to whom there is probable cause to believe that they are committing or attempting to participate in or facilitating the financing of terrorism.

“The AMLC, consistent with the Philippines’ international obligations, shall be authorized to issue a freeze order with respect to property or funds of a designated organization, association, group or any individual to comply with binding terrorism-related resolutions,” Racela said.

He added the freeze order would be until the basis for the issuance thereof shall have been lifted.

“During the effectivity of the freeze order, an aggrieved party may, within 20 days from issuance, file with the Court of Appeals a petition to determine the basis of the freeze order according to the principle of effective judicial protection,” he said in the issuance.

Latest data showed the collaboration between the AMLC and other law enforcement agencies resulted in over P1 billion worth of assets frozen from January 2018 to July 2019.

Frozen assets include P52 million worth of terrorism funds, while estimated assets subject to civil forfeiture has reached over P600 million.

The AMLC is pushing for the enactment of the Anti-Terror Act of 2020 as well as amendments to the AMLC to prevent sanctions form the FATF once the Philippines is included in the gray list.

The country’s observation period has been extended to February next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the AMLC is required to submit a comprehensive report on the progress in implementing the recommended actions after a review in April.

The FATF would decide in June 2021 instead of February 2021 whether or not the Philippines would be included in the watchdog’s gray list.

The Philippines was blacklisted by the FATF in 2000 for failing to address “dirty” money issues. This paved the way for the enactment of Republic Act 9160 or AMLA in 2001.

The country was subsequently removed from the blacklist in February 2005. It narrowly avoided being placed on blacklist in 2012 as it criminalized terrorist financing and pursued quicker freezing of suspect accounts.

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