Senator Edgardo J. Angara called on the administration to strengthen the powers of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) in the coming year by passing the anti-terrorist funding bill now pending at the Senate.
“We must not let another year pass without establishing a comprehensive anti-terrorism framework. Now that this bill is moving forward in the Senate, I urge my colleagues to act on it without delay,” said Angara, who filed Senate Bill No. 2676, “An Act Defining Terrorist Financing as a Crime and Providing Penalties Therefor” earlier this year.
Known as the Terrorist Financing Suppression Act of 2011, this bill is set to be adopted and sponsored in the plenary in full by the Senate Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies once the Senate session resumes.
Angara authored the bill to address the growing concern over the country’s growing infamy as a terrorism-prone nation. The increasing number of bombings and other terrorist hits over the past few years, along with a Bloomberg article published early this year which classified the Philippines as a “Southeast Asian terror hotspot” prompted the veteran legislator to craft this measure.
“One way we can address this issue is by enacting a law criminalizing the act of financing terrorist activities as a separate and punishable offense. This way, terrorists may be prosecuted even before heinous acts of violence are committed,” he explained.
The proposed bill is designed to expand the authority of the AMLC, enabling them to inquire into suspicious bank accounts without a court order and freeze or shut these down without delay.
Under this law, terrorist financiers would be penalized, regardless of whether or not the terrorist act took place. The AMLC would be able to request foreign assistance, including extradition of suspects.
“It is a known fact that terrorist cells rely heavily on continuous funding. Cutting off the source of their income would thwart their plans and would enable our authorities stay one step ahead,” said Angara. (30)