By Chino S. Leyco
The Department of Finance (DOF) has underscored the need for member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to share their efforts and initiatives in deterring money laundering schemes that have been proven to be among the primary tools being used to fund international terrorist activities.
In a statement, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said that on the part of the Philippines, its enactment of Republic Act (RA) No. 10168 or the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012, represented the country’s firm commitment to fight global terrorism and its financing.
Dominguez said criminalizing terrorism financing under RA 10168, has strengthened the Philippines’ efforts to trace and freeze funds used or being planned to be used to carry out terrorist attacks.
“The Philippines is currently extending efforts to stifle the occurrence of illicit trade activity. Regardless, illicit trade activity continues to pose a high risk to the country. Moreover, money laundering contributes to terrorism financing, the threat of which has been categorized as high risk. The ASEAN Member-States can thus share their efforts and initiatives in deterring this problem,” Dominguez said.
Among the ASEAN members, the Philippines is considered one of the countries with the lowest money laundering risk although illicit revenue flows remain a problem.
In the Philippines, Dominguez said “close cooperation with relevant intelligence and law enforcement agencies is essential in order to trace, seize and forfeit funds used or about to be used for terrorism financing, and hurdle impediments, such as bank secrecy laws, to ensure the successful prosecution” of this crime.
He said legislative amendments to support the legal and administrative framework for the automatic exchange of information with other foreign tax authorities is currently pending in the Philippine Congress.