KEEP off the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC). Don’t frustrate its mandate as the government’s effective tool against money launderers.
This is a reminder addressed particularly to corrupt elected politicians who are, in effect, perceived to be sabotaging AMLC’s efforts in running after money launderers.
They hide their true intent of harassing their political enemies in the guise of eradicating corruption in government when corruption is not among the offenses that fall under AMLC’s investigative functions.
Created by law, AMLC is composed of three members with Gov. Amando Tetangco Jr. of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) as chairman; Insurance Commissioner Emmanuel Dooc and Chairman Teresita Herbosa of the Securities and Exchange Commission. It is assisted in effectively performing its mandate by a secretariat, which is headed by an executive director.
There is nothing in the AMLC charter that mandates it to investigate corruption in public service. Neither is it an agency tasked to build corruption cases against government officials and executives. But this is what is happening today under the present national leadership.
More importantly, AMLC is not a source of information on bank deposits of the enemies of any administration. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her people never interfered in the agency’s functions. Perhaps, they knew better in exercising delicadeza than the present breed of elected national leaders.
Under the Arroyo Administration, politicians did not tap the AMLC as a tool against the opposition. But their counterparts today are trying to use it as part of their political strategy, and they have even expanded their use of the council to include inventing news about it for the media to report instead of allowing the media to report the news.
These dirty players of politics should be told that the letter C in AMLC stands for Council and not for Corruption. They are mistaken if they sincerely believe that they, as elected politicians, possess oversight powers over the AMLC, it being a government agency, and dictate on its members what they should and should not do – including exempting their bank accounts and those of their allies from AMLC jurisdiction.
Unfortunately for us, most of our politicians not only yearn for power but also for cash, which is the reason why they would try to eliminate the opposition. And they would even prefer the cash incentive that goes with that power to be in US dollars for easier “remittance” to their bank deposits abroad. This must be their selfish motive in trying to destroy the AMLC.
Chief Justice Corona
A few years ago, politicians abused the AMLC when they used records of the bank deposits of then Chief Justice Renato Corona as evidence against him. Should this happen again—and there are signs of that recurring—what this country would have then is a highly politicized AMLC, which would simply function as a tool used by whichever political group is in power to ruin the future of this country.
What happened to ex-Chief Justice Corona was a premature and illegal disclosure of bank accounts. It may be too late to ask this question but should still be asked anyway: Who should have been held responsible for illegally exposing the Chief Justice’s bank accounts? Naturally, everyone would be looking at the AMLC because it had the files on bank deposits.
If no one would admit responsibility for leaking the Chief Justice’s bank records, the follow-up question then should be: Who “stole” the AMLC’s files on his bank accounts to please Malacanang’s occupants and their chief? Would he or she be ever unmasked so that the public would know the politicians behind that unjust affair? Could it be Tetangco or Dooc, or Herbosa? If it’s not one of the three council members, then who? At the very least, the council as a group should have been held liable for command responsibility over the AMLC secretariat.
With or without any answer forthcoming, here is one speculation for whatever it would be worth: Exposing one’s bank accounts would hurt the banking system and scare away potential investors – both foreigners and Filipinos – from expanding their businesses. Businessmen would rather go somewhere else where their money would be much safer than in the Philippines. Now we know why foreign investors would not invest permanently in this country. They would rather come and go with their “hot” money through the stock market.