Solon seeks reforms in regulation on bringing of cash in Philippines

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 01 2020 11:59 AM

Solon seeks reforms in regulation on bringing of cash in Philippines 1
Foreign passenger arrive at the NAIA Terminal 1 in Parañaque City, January 22, 2020. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - A lawmaker on Saturday called for reforms in the Philippines' regulations on bringing of cash into the country after Sen. Richard Gordon expressed alarm over what he described as an apparent money-laundering scheme involving Chinese visitors.

Eric Go Yap of the Anti-Crime and Terrorism Community Involvement and Support (ACT-CIS) partylist reiterated his call for an investigation into the alleged money laundering activities of tourists, particularly from China.

"Reforms to regulate the bringing in of cash in the country must be instigated as soon as possible to preempt future issues," Yap, who chairs the Committee on Games and Amusements of the House of Representatives, said in a statement.

Gordon has claimed that several Chinese citizens apparently laundered at least $188 million in cash in the country starting December 2019, which Philippine government officials supposedly tolerated.

Citing records from the Bureau of Customs, Gordon said the large amount of cash were being declared by owners for "travel and casino" use, as well as for "investment." 

The Philippines requires any person to declare any amount exceeding $10,000 (or its equivalent in other foreign currency) being brought into or out of the country, including its purpose.

Yap, who also serves as vice chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means, said the Bureau of Customs and the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) were already alerted about the issue as early as November last year.

"Ilang bilyon na ang pumasok sa ating bansa na hindi natin alam kung saan napunta. Kasi yung iba, hindi naman talaga nila dinideclare sa form na sinasagutan nila sa Immigration," said Yap.

(Billions of pesos have entered our country without us knowing where it went. Some don't really declare it in the Immigration form.)

"We are also grateful that this issue has come to the Senate's attention. Since we have the same agenda, we can resolve this more effectively. We will be treating this with urgency and caution as the large amount of money may be used to fund a destabilization plot."

Gordon, who chairs the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, has called for a Senate probe with the Anti-Money Laundering Council (ALMC) into the alleged money-laundering scheme.

Yap said lawmakers have been coordinating with the Customs bureau and "other stakeholders in developing plans and strategies to have a coherent bulk cash smuggling law."

"Hindi naman natin ipinagbabawal na magpasok sila ng malaking pera sa bansa, dahil baka gamitin nila ito para sa negosyo na makakatulong naman sa ekonomiya natin," he said.

(We're not prohibiting them to bring large amounts of money here because maybe they'll use it for business that will help our economy.)

"Pero kailangan may regulating policy tayo na iniimplement para sigurado tayo na hindi kaduda-duda ang paggagamitan nila ng pera."

(But we need to implement a regulating policy to ensure that the use of the money is not questionable.)