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Solon warns of effect on OFW remittances if PH fails to pass anti-terror bill

/ 06:09 PM June 02, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — An administration lawmaker on Tuesday warned that the international community might delay the release of the remittances of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) if the Philippines will be “gray-listed” for failure to pass a stronger anti-terrorism law by October.

Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) Rep. Jericho Nograles said that the remittances of OFWs to their families and finance operations of businesses could be delayed if the Philippines will be “gray-listed” by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global watchdog against terrorism.

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In the website of the FATF, a country or jurisdiction placed under its “gray-list” means “it has committed to resolve swiftly the identified strategic deficiencies within agreed timeframes and is subject to increased monitoring.”

Asked why House Bill No. 6875, which amends the Human Security Act of 2007, is being pushed at this time of the pandemic, Nograles explained that Congress was given an October deadline by FATF to give more teeth against existing anti-terror laws to include provisions on terrorist financing.

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Nograles warned that if the country fails to pass such law, the country might be held under suspicion, resulting in delays in the remittances of OFWs to their families here in the Philippines.

“’Yung ating International Financial Task Force which basically manages the flow of money, the laws and rules on the flow of money between nations and between economies, mayroong binigyan na deadline ang ating Kongreso na dapat by October of this year, mayroon na tayong very strong laws against terrorist financing,” Nograles said in an online interview with reporters.

“Kung dati, mga tatlong araw nandyan na, siguro aabot na ng isang buwan bago dumating ‘yung pera padala ng ating mga OFW,” he said.

Aside from OFWs, local businesses will also be affected.

“Under the current circumstances, ‘yung mga negosyo pag nag-transfer ‘yan ng dollars to pesos, pesos to dollars, through international trade, umaabot ‘yan ng mga dalawang linggo. Ngayon kung ma-graylist tayo baka aabot na yan ng dalawang buwan,” Nograles said.

“Pagdududahan ng buong financial world na ang pera galing sa Pilipinas ay papunta sa Pilipinas, hindi sigurado na (hindi) ginagamit for terrorist activities,” he added.

Nograles further explained that the Philippines inadvertently became a host for terrorist activities because the existing Human Security Act of 2007 does not define “foreign terrorists.”

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“Wala ring other safeguards for (those) operating a terrorist cell in the Philippines (who might) terrorize other countries abroad. Wala tayong batas na pwede nating pigilan ang mga yan,” he said. “These kinds of activities are, according to the United Nations Security Council… we are obligated as a member to make sure na hindi tayo maghohost ng mga terrorists sa ating bansa.”

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday sent a letter to House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano certifying HB 6875 as urgent, which means that the controversial measure may be approved on second or third reading on the same day.

The House Committees on Public Order and Safety and on Defense and Security earlier adopted—and later on, approved—the Senate version of the bill to possibly fast track its approval.

The measure is now up for plenary debates in the House while it has already been approved on final reading in the Senate as early as February this year.

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TAGS: Anti-terror bill, coronavirus Philippines, COVID-19, House Bill No. 6875, Human Security Act of 2007, Jericho Nograles, OFW remittances
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