The drama and the impeachment trial have died down but the work towards good governance continues.
Majority of the country find the conviction of Rene Corona a vindication. It is a big breakthrough in fighting corruption. But as much as the conviction is first in our history, the trial also served as a precedent to strengthening the office of the Ombudsman and the Anti Money Laundering Act. (AMLA).
The AMLA is part of an international agreement to fight terrorism and money laundering. This was enacted under Republic Act No. 9160 in 2001. Under the AMLA, a task force or council is empowered to investigate bank transactions of suspicious depositors under certain conditions. However, since its enactment in 2001 and until the impeachment trial, the Anti Money Laundering Council (AMLC) lacked the teeth to make any substantial investigation.
Since the enactment of the AMLA, the council can only look into the accounts in ‘behalf of’ or with the advance information to the account holder. This was due to the opinions aired by the Supreme Court that became a precedent in interpreting the AMLA law.
The AMLA was the same instrument used by Ombudsman Morales to reveal Rene Corona’s accounts. If not for the AMLA, Ombudsman Morales could not have revealed the $12Million in transactions that Rene Corona had. During the trial, the whole country was introduced to the awesome power of the AMLC and how it was envisioned. The trial presented to the country the potential of AMLA and how it can be a strong tool towards fighting corruption.
Even before the trial finished, Sen. TG Guingona, a Kaya Natin Champion, was already working hard to push for Senate Bill 3009 that amends and strengthens the Anti Money Laundering Act (AMLA). With the new amendments, the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) will be empowered to look into the suspected money launderer’s account without asking their permission.
"This is necessary in light of a lamentable decision of our Supreme Court which ruled that before the Anti-Money Laundering Council can look into an account, it would have to inform the concerned person,” Senator TG said.
This was set through [G.R. No. 174629, February 14, 2008 by Justice Dante Tinga the concurrence of] in an investigation of the PIATCO-NAIA Airport transaction with the government.
The necessary implication of this finding that Section 11 of the AMLA does not generally authorize the issuance ex parte of the bank inquiry order would be that such orders cannot be issued unless notice is given to the owners of the account, allowing them the opportunity to contest the issuance of the order.
Concurring in the decision were Justices Leonardo A. Quisumbing, Alicia Austria-Martinez, who was designated to sit as an additional member of the Second Division as replacement of Justice Antonio T. Carpio who inhibited himself per Administrative Circular No. 84-2007, Conchita Carpio Morales, and Presbitero J. Velasco. (GR No. 174629, Phil v. Eugenio, et al., February 14, 2008)
In this setup, the AMLC effectively lost its power because the suspected account holders need to be informed before an inquiry is made. This situation has already placed our country into the “gray” (next to black list) of the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force. This means: “To be blacklisted means that the Philippines is perceived to be ‘non-cooperative’ in the global fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.”(Senate Bill 3123) This translates to more stringent overseas bank transactions, which will cause delays that directly affect Overseas workers.
"I have witnessed the usual scheme wherein funds that are unlawfully acquired or stolen from government are moved from one account to another, with the clear purpose of keeping it away from the reach of the authorities. People have laundered funds from their accounts to the accounts of their wives, brothers-in-law, drivers, and every conceivable person within their network," Senator TG Guingona said.
If anything, the impeachment trial primed the reform of the AMLC, which sped up the amendments thru a bicameral meeting. (joint senate and congress meeting)
Senator TG is one example of a Kaya Natin Champion with a deep dedication towards improving transparency and accountability in the country. During the 2010 elections, Sen TG became widely known as someone who would bash corrupt crocodiles in the head with an emphatic grunt, “Galit sa Buwaya!”
He is someone who may not have the dramatics or flurry of invectives in a speech. But he is strong in action and relevance. Cheers for Senator TG.
Kaya Natin (KN) leaders continue to work toward good governance.
This weekend, KN will be with over 17 mayors and a few first term congressmen in a forum at Richmond Hotel the will discuss ‘Best Practices for Election Campaigns & Strategies’. The forum, in partnership with Sea-Oil, the DILG, and the Ateneo School of Government aims to engage elected officials in promoting good, effective, and ethical election practices that make candidates win. This is part of the efforts that Kaya Natin has committed itself in helping elected officials towards good governance.
....And it still continues...
This week, our lead convener, Harvey Keh, partnered with Tagudin, Ilocos Sur Mayor Jun Versoza and his son, MJ Versoza and opened 5 libraries in the town in partnership with AHON foundation.
In one of Harvey’s reflections he said,
Sa totoo lang madaling mamuna, magbigay ng komento at sabihin kung ano ang mali sa ating gobyerno o sa ating lipunan pero hindi tayo dapat matapos sa pamumuna, dapat manguna rin tayo sa pagbibigay ng solusyon sa mga problema na ating nakikita.
At Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership, we don't just point out problems in our country or take stands on particular issues, we help bring solutions through our governance, education and public health programs for local government leaders.
At AHON Foundation, we help develop public school libraries to help our next generation of Filipinos learn how to read.
Herbel Santiago, program manager said, “At AHON we aim to increase the literacy rate of the students. AHON now has 63 schools. ...By advocating the bayanihan spirit, we seek to challenge and to empower communities to work with us in helping themselves.”
After the drama, the admonishment, the excitement, and the anxieties; after the conviction of Renato Coronado Corona. Our vigil goes on. At Kaya Natin, we watch, we pray, and we engage to promote good governance and ethical leadership.
Our work towards good governance continues and we have living examples for you to see.
Comments are welcome at [email protected] or private message through Facebook. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter @jesslorenzo for stories of good governance.
Jess Lorenzo is currently the program director of Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership's public health initiatives. www.kayanatin.org @kayanatin on Twitter