Senate rushing passage of AMLA bill to beat FATF deadline, says Osmeña

THE Senate panel is rushing the passage of three remaining amendments to Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) to beat the deadline set by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force on October 19, 2012, Senator Sergio “Serge” Osmena III said on Thursday.

“We will pass the bill by next week, to meet the deadline. We were just listening to concerns, amendments, etc,, so we will entertain all those amendments on Monday, maybe by Tuesday it will be passed,” Osmena said as agreed in a caucus last Wednesday.

Osmeña also said that all senators agreed during the caucus to do away with the interpellation to save time, since the Senate has only three session days in order to pass the priority measure certified by President Benigno Aquino III.

“So instead of debating it on the floor which would take so long, we compressed it and debated it in caucus,” he said.

He said that FATF will convene in Rome in October 15-19, 2012 and set the last day of the meeting for the Asia Pacific Groups such as the Philippine in order to comply with the anti-money laundering standards.

“The last time we barely made the deadline, it was 4 pm in Rome and they were going adjourn at 5 p.m., they faxed it with the signature ng President pPnoy at 4 pm. So they took us out of the grey list because of that. So hopefully, we will be able to do something also this time,” he said.

He said, on Monday the bill will be passed on third and final reading, and there would no more “three day rule” since the measure is certified by the President. It is also possible to meet for bicameral conference committee on Tuesday night, and bring it back to both Houses for the approval of the report by Wednesday.

It will be enrolled on Thursday, and eventually signed by the President on that day, and have it sent to Rome on or before Friday.

“Ang important is we can show the APG (Asia-Pacific Group), even if it would not have been signed yet into law by the President, that we already have an agreed bill, an agreed bicam report, we are just going through the formalities of enrolling the bill, printing it, sending it to the Palace and obtaining the President’s signature,” he explained.

Hoping for the best Osmena said that worse come to worse, the country can send the bicameral conference report which was agreed upon by both Houses of Congress which he is hoping that APG will accept those report.

“We can tell FATF that we passed it on third reading in the Senate and this is our version but we still have to go to bicam, tignan natin ano mangyayari sa bicam so baka maiwan tayo sa grey list. At least hindi na tayo lalaglag sa blacklist,” he said.

“I’m only saying what I can hope, I don’t know what the FATF will do or the Asia Pacific Group, what I’m saying is that I’m hopeful that, at the worst, we will remain in the grey list if they don’t like some of our amendments or baka tatanggalin na tayo at ilalagay sa white list,”Osmena added.

“I’m not keeping my fingers crossed that we will pass a bill, we will definitely pass a bill, that is the result of the caucus. Ang fingers crossed is whether the amendments that are in the bill will meet the approval of the FATF, yan ang fingers crossed,” he concluded.

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