Cayetano: Amendments to AMLA and future anti-corruption mechanisms should push for transparency, not political persecution

Senate minority leader Alan Peter Cayetano stressed that amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) and future anti-corruption mechanisms should push for transparency, not political persecution.

“One of our main concerns is how to amend the AMLA to meet the international standards when it comes to fighting money launderers while balancing transparency and the prevention of abuses and its possible use for political persecution,” he said.

The senator stressed that the law on AMLA must be synched with other laws on how to go after erring public officials, otherwise it leaves room for politicking to occur.

“We have to prevent the scenario that your bank accounts will be exposed to the public simply because the government wants to target you specifically for political reasons. One must still be assured that he will enjoy the perks of privacy without fear of undue exposure,” he said.

“I have no problem with everyone being investigated. But if you are going to be investigated because you stepped on a certain government official’s interests or your story as a media practitioner will affect them, then that is as bad as corruption,” he added.

The minority leader noted that while there are many apparent safeguards to prevent this from occurring, history has taught him that theory is often different from what is actually practiced.

“Even in the old AMLA, the theory was okay and seemed to be protected against abuse. But as we have seen, there may be provisions in the AMLA that could destroy the reputation of a political foe,” he said.

Cayetano pointed out that there also has to be a study on how some amendments and other transparency mechanisms to fight corruption will affect the banking industry.

“This is why I called in the Central Bank to study how to make the system more transparent when dealing with public officials while protecting the banking system’s need for privacy,” he said.