AMLC asked to submit report on efforts to remove Philippines from int’l grey list

Robie de Guzman   •   July 1, 2021   •   540

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Grace Poe on Thursday asked the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to provide the Senate a written report on efforts to strike the Philippines off the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) grey list.

“We expect a substantial update from the AMLC on the concrete steps and direction we are taking to ensure progress on our compliance,” Poe said in a statement.

The senator pointed out that Congress already did its part in resolving the technical deficiencies of the law by amending the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA).

“Passing the necessary amendments to the law is one of the requirements under the mutual evaluation report which was duly met,” said Poe, who chairs the Senate committee on banks, financial institutions and currencies.

She also stressed that the AMLA reforms are important in protecting the earnings of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

“We should not make it difficult for our OFWs to send hard-earned money to their loved ones. They must be spared of undue costs and delays in their remittances,” she said.

“Higher remittance charges mean less sustenance for the families of OFWs, and a week of delay in receiving the money impacts on the ability of their dependents back home to make both ends meet,” she added. “OFW remittances always step in to buoy the local economy even in the middle of the pandemic.”

According to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), total money sent by Filipino migrant workers from January to April this year reached $9.9 billion. This is higher by 4.8 percent than the $9.4 billion remittance inflows in the same period last year.

The FATF, a Paris-based anti-money laundering watchdog, earlier added the Philippines to its grey list or countries under increased monitoring.

Poe said the failure to implement enhanced due diligence measures could lead to higher interest rates and processing fees, which could impact on the ordinary Filipinos, including OFWs in sending their remittances.

The inclusion in the list does not automatically subject the Philippines to countermeasures, the AMLC earlier said. However, the country needs to substantially comply with the needed reforms within a given time frame to avert the financial sanctions.

“The government must ensure that those who are earning lawfully and legally are not inconvenienced. We cannot afford to deal with more financial challenges as we reel from the brunt of the pandemic,” Poe said.

BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno, chairperson of the AMLC, earlier made a commitment to work with the FATF and the Asia Pacific Group toward the timely implementation of the action plans.

The country’s financial intelligence unit vowed to resolve the remaining strategic deficiencies, which are down to 18 from 70, to be stricken off the grey list.

Diokno said that the Philippines will make a report to the FATF on its progress three times a year starting this September, optimistic that the country will be taken off the grey list after completion of all action plans in two years.

Clusters of Delta variant cases seen in Northern Mindanao, Antique – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   July 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday reported that clusters of Delta COVID-19 variant cases have been observed in Northern Mindanao and the province of Antique in Western Visayas.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the cluster of infections in the Northern Mindanao was seen in a family while different clusters of infections were observed in Antique.

She said one family cluster may have stemmed from an individual who came home from work and infected the household.

“Ito pong ating cluster of infection na isa, dito sa may Delta variant, nakitaan natin na mayroon isang kapamilya na nagtratrabaho sa isang lugar at umuwi sa kanilang pwesto, at doon sila po ay nagkaroon ng pagkakahawa-hawa. There is a link,” Vergeire said in a press forum.

The DOH earlier confirmed the local transmission of the highly contagious variant following the phylogenetic analysis conducted by the University of the Philippines – Philippine Genome Center, and case investigation by the DOH Epidemiology Bureau and the regional and local epidemiology and surveillance units.

The number of Delta variant cases in the Philippines rose to 47 after 12 more local cases were detected. Of these cases, three died while eight remain active.

The DOH reminded the public to continue adhering to COVID-19 health protocols, such as the wearing of face masks and face shields, social distancing and avoiding unnecessary travels and gatherings.

They must also get vaccinated against COVID-19 when it is their turn.

The DOH likewise urged local government units to shorten the duration of case detection to isolation and immediately isolate symptomatic patients, and ramp up their vaccination and prioritize the senior citizens and people with underlying conditions.

Philippines lists 6,845 new COVID-19 infections; active cases up to 55,069

Robie de Guzman   •   July 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday reported that the Philippines has logged 6,845 new cases of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), pushing the cumulative tally to 1,537,097.

The DOH said that the country’s number of active cases rose to 55,069.

Of this, 93.4 percent are mild, 1.3 percent are asymptomatic, 1.6 percent are moderate, 2.3 percent are severe, and 1.4 percent are in critical condition.

The DOH noted in its report that two accredited testing laboratories failed to submit their data on time.

The DOH also reported 2,330 more patients who have recovered from the disease, bringing the total recoveries to 1,455,137.

The death toll remained at 26,891 as there were no reported new fatalities.

Data from the DOH also showed that 52 percent of the country’s ICU beds are occupied and 36 percent of ventilators are being used.

In the National Capital Region, 42 percent of the ICU beds are occupied while 32 percent of the ventilators are in use.

The DOH also noted a positivity rate of 12.3 percent out of 43,668 tests reported last July 21.

PNP chief Eleazar orders probe on slay of Cebu radio commentator Cortes

Robie de Guzman   •   July 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Guillermo Eleazar on Friday said he has directed the Cebu Provincial Police Office to conduct a thorough investigation into the killing of radio commentator Reynante “Rey” Cortes.

Eleazar said police investigators will look into the killing of Cortes, including threats that the victim may have had received.

“All angles will be investigated to determine the motive in the crime, especially if this was related to his profession,” the PNP chief said in a statement.

“The local police will also investigate if there were threats to his life prior to the incident,” he added.

Initial investigation showed that Cortes was shot dead on July 22 by an unidentified gunman after his radio program.

He was killed in front of the station DYRB Radyo Pilipino along N. Bacalso Avenue in Barangay Mambaling, Cebu City.

Cortes was rushed to a hospital but was declared dead on arrival.

Eleazar said investigators are coordinating with Cortes’ family, friends, and colleagues for information that could help the probe.

He also joined calls for justice in the killing of Cortes and underscored that threats and attacks against journalists have no space in a democratic country.

“Nananawagan tayo sa mga maaaring makapagbigay ng impormasyon sa kasong ito, makipagtulungan kayo sa mga awtoridad upang agarang maresolba at mabigyan ng hustisya ang pagkamatay ni Cortes,” he said.

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