SolGen: PHL needs anti-terror law to avoid FATF blacklist

THE government’s top lawyer stressed the country’s need for the anti-terror law to avoid getting blacklisted by the Paris-based anti-money laundering watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF) for non-compliance or just partial compliance with its international obligations to fight terrorism.

In Tuesday’s Supreme Court hearing on the 37 cases filed against the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, Solicitor General Jose C. Calida reiterated earlier pronouncements that being blacklisted will give the Philippines limited access to international banking and financial services as well as increase the cost of business operations, remittances, and loan interests.

Mr. Calida cited that “the Philippines is the only Southeast Asian country in the list of the 10 countries most impacted by terrorism” based on the 2020 Global Terrorism Index.

As such, he said a “stronger and more responsive law” is needed.

He added that the Philippines’ status has already been upgraded partly because of the passage of the anti-terror law last year, and the government is now waiting for the FATF’s confirmation.

Anti-Money Laundering Council Secretariat Executive Director Mel Georgie B. Racela said last year that the Philippines should “demonstrate effective implementation of the Anti-Terror Act before the observation period ends in Feb. 2021” to avoid being blacklisted.

The FATF’s website states that countries included in the blacklist are “high-risk jurisdictions (that) have significant strategic deficiencies in their regimes to counter money laundering, terrorist financing, and financing of proliferation.”

The 37 petitions filed by various sectors against the anti-terror law question the constitutionality of certain provisions and vagueness of the expanded definition of terrorism, among other issues. — Bianca Angelica D. Añago