MANILA – Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Tuesday said he is open to the proposal of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to amend the Central Bank Act, particularly the powers of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) governor over the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).
“Okay siguro yun kasi medyo marami ang -- very heavy, very important ang function ng central bank governor. Kaya para siguro hindi na siya maabala kasi itong trabaho ng AMLC would consist of administrative matters and criminal,” Aguirre said in a news briefing.
(I think that's okay considering that the functions of the central bank governor are very heavy and important. Stripping him of supervisory powers over the AMLC is worth looking into since the work of the AMLC chairman involves administrative and criminal matters.)
In a statement, Arroyo said the BSP should be prohibited from supervising the operations of the AMLC.
"Though [BSP Governor Amando] Tetangco has unquestionably served the BSP itself with distinction, his supervision over the AMLC has exposed some problems. The said agency has been acting much on its own with regard to its investigations, without bothering to get specific clearances from the BSP governor," her office said Monday.
Arroyo said the governor could still serve as one of the council's members.
She said that although the country's monetary system has been well-managed, career technocrats like Tetangco do not have the temperament and training to supervise AMLC's criminal investigations.
"To insulate the BSP officials from the actuations of AMLC, especially the political ones which may be influenced by the Council officials’ loyalty to their appointing authority, the BSP should be liberated from the burden of supervising the very rigorous demands of criminal investigation such as those performed by AMLC," she said.
Former Makati Representative and co-author of the Anti-Money Laundering Act Teddy Locsin however said Arroyo’s proposal is "irresponsible."
Locsin argued, the central bank governor was tasked to supervise the AMLC to avoid political appointees who may abuse the powers of the AMLC.
“That is the most irresponsible proposal I’ve ever heard. The BSP governor does not investigate nor does he supervise investigation. It’s the AMLC. If you remove him, who will you put there?” Locsin told ANC.
“The entire AMLC body, including its agents, I made sure would be composed only of people who have gone to the grind of 5 years of continuous service in central bank because we don’t want a prosecutorial type who know how to investigate criminal cases to use a body as powerful as that.”
Locsin also claimed, there was no proof of any alleged collusion between the AMLC and former president Benigno Aquino III in the impeachment of former Supreme Court chief justice Renato Corona. He also pointed out that the council steered clear of any attempt to look into Arroyo's bank accounts during the Aquino administration.
Arroyo's proposal comes amid President Rodrigo Duterte's criticism of AMLC, which he described as corrupt and uncooperative with the government's war on drugs.