Bangkok (Thailand), 23 January 2019 - In a significant move towards further safeguarding its financial system against illicit financial flows and the financing of terrorist acts, the Philippines recently passed the National Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Strategy (NACS) with technical support provided by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
The passing of the NACS marks the latest of achievements stemming from the longstanding relationship between UNODC and the Philippines' Anti-Money Laundering Council, the lead agency responsible for the development of the national strategy. As part of the counter-terrorism program, the Philippines and UNODC have worked together closely on the multiple aspects of criminal justice responses to terrorism, including capacity-building trainings to law enforcement agencies on inter-agency collaboration for the effective prevention of terrorism, technical support for drafting legislation on countering the financing of terrorism, and the investigation, prosecution and adjudication of terrorism cases in line with international standards.
Terrorist groups have proven adept at moving their funds, disguising their financial trails and evading authorities' attention. New technologies and the constantly evolving methods of terrorists to fund their activities require a robust institutional framework to prevent, detect and deter suspicious transactions and disrupt financing of terrorist networks. The NACS lays out concrete objectives ranging from strengthening Philippine laws and regulations, coordinated action among government agencies, and international cooperation. It also establishes the creation of a national coordinating committee that will provide direction and ensure effective implementation of the NACS.
"[An] effective anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) system demands cooperation and commitment among government and private sectors," stated AMLC Secretariat Executive Director, Attorney Mel Georgie B. Racela in their press release. "Though these sectors have already been collaborating in the past, the NACS standardizes our country's approach. Our agencies, offices, and institutions all have different mandates and responsibilities, but the NACS methodically gets us all together toward the common goal of fighting money laundering and terrorism financing."
Adopted as state policy, the NACS provides a roadmap for agencies and other stakeholders in the Philippines to work collaboratively in addressing vulnerabilities in the financial system. "The adoption of the NACS is a welcome and decisive step by the Philippines towards maintaining the integrity of the financial sector against the threat of exploitation by terrorist and other illicit actors. Its significance in contributing to national security cannot be overstated," said Mr. Hernán Longo, Regional Adviser for Counter-Terrorism at UNODC Regional Office for Southeast Asia and the Pacific. "We are honored to have collaborated with the Philippines in the development of this important national policy and stand ready to provide further tailor-made support as it moves ahead with implementation," he added.
As part of its capacity-building and technical assistance programme in partnership with AMLC, UNODC will continue to engage with the Philippines in strengthening AML/CFT operational and institutional frameworks through a training of national trainers programme and training courses to enhance the capabilities of national stakeholders to detect, analyze and suppress terrorist financing cases.