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Eleazar: PNP hopeful of success of campaign vs ‘dirty terror, drug money’

November 3, 2021 Alfred P. Dalizon 267 views

EleazarTHE country’s top cop yesterday expressed confidence that concerted efforts by different government agencies led by the Anti-Money Laundering Council will help stop money-laundering and terrorist financing in the country.

According to General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar, they are also working together with the AMLC and other concerned agencies to stop terrorist financing in the country with the move aimed at having the country removed from the Financial Action Task Force’s “gray list.”

The Philippine National Police (PNP) chief pointed out that PNP has entered a number of agreements with the AMLC for the effective enforcement of Republic Act 10168 or the “Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012.”

“Terrorism financing is a scourge on our country and the Filipino people. We need to always be on alert and come up with measures to stop the flow of money to these terrorist groups who would use these funds to carry out possible attacks,” Gen. Eleazar said.

The PNP chief pointed out that in February this year, the PNP and AMLC signed a memorandum of agreement to solidify coordination and boost efforts in enforcing provisions of RA 10168.

“This is in addition to the past individual memorandums of agreement entered into by AMLC with various PNP offices and units such as the PNP Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the Intelligence Group to beef up the campaign against terrorist financing,” he explained.

The agreement between the PNP and AMLC provides for the establishment of a center at Camp Crame which will serve as an information-sharing hub between the two agencies.

The AMLC recently deputized the PNP Drug Enforcement Group headed by Brigadier Gen. Remus B. Medina to help them go after ill-gotten properties of drug lords and their ilk in the country.

The PNP-DEG headquarters houses the Joint PNP-AMLC Fusion Center in Camp Crame.

“The center enables us to efficiently exchange information and intelligence, maximize resources, streamline operations, and improve capabilities to fight money laundering, terrorist financing, and other crimes,” Gen. Eleazar said.

He also expressed confidence that inter-agency programs and efforts against terrorist financing and money laundering would soon bear fruit.

“With these efforts and activities with AMLC, the PNP anticipates that we will be able to reach our target to exit the said gray list by January, 2023,” he said.

The FATF has included the Philippines in its “gray list” and said that the country needed to develop strategies to effectively address terrorist financing and money laundering.

Another significant move in the government’s war against big-time drug personalities is the decision of the AMLC to deputize the PNP-DEG in its effort to attack the financial structure of drug trafficking and money-laundering groups in the country.

Brig. Gen. Medina said they consider their AMLC deputation as an effective tool to recover drug money including those being laundered in The Philippines.

However, to seize suspected ill-gotten wealth and other properties of known drug personalities, the PNP-DEG will be fully working with the AMLC to obtain a warrant from the Court of Appeals.

Brig. Gen. Medina explained that asset forfeiture means the government taking of property that has been illegally used or acquired without compensating the owner as soon as there is evidence that he acquired the properties thru his illegal drug activities.

Assets that are subject to forfeiture include motor vehicles, real estate, houses or anything of value used to commit a drug crime or bought with drug proceeds.

Officials said that the move not only takes the profit of crime away but also removes crime instrumentalities. At the same time, it is used to deter crime, dismantle drug trafficking syndicates and money-laundering groups; weaken criminal enterprise and most importantly, punish drug financiers, smugglers and their ilk.

Last s month, the AMLC equipped the PNP-DEG with the authority to go after ill-gotten wealth of drug lords in the country, the Journal Group learned.

According to Brig. Gen. Medina, they got their authority from the AMLC following a 3-day deputation workshop spearheaded by AMLC Executive Director Attorney Mel George B. Racela.

With their new authority, Medina said that they will be able to further cripple the activities of big-time drug traffickers and other violators of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 and the Anti-Money Laundering Act.

“We are currently fully working with the AMLC to establish the money trail of all our big-time targets in order to arrest them and eventually forfeit their assets in favor of the government,” said Brig. Gen. Medina.

Thirty-seven PNP-DEG officers and men attended the workshop which was the product of an enhanced cooperation between the PNP and the AMLC which has already established a PNP-AMLC Intelligence Fusion Center in Camp Crame last February 15.

Brig. Gen. Medina said that the AMLC-deputized PNP-DEG operatives headed by their intelligence chief, Colonel Jhoanna P. Rosales will form part of their tracker teams dedicated to work hand-in-hand with AMLC officials in conducting financial investigation and if warranted, the filing of civil forfeiture cases and freeze order.

The official said that in line with the directive of Gen. Eleazar, they got the AMLC deputation following the workshop which also covered the mid-term assessment and road mapping of the PNP-DEG and the AMLC’s Sub-Group on Anti-Illegal Drug Trafficking and Financial Crimes and Investigation headed by Atty. Joeshias B. Tambago and Mr. Artemio L. Baculi Jr.

Also discussed during the workshop were the status of drug targets who were earlier on referred to the sub-group for financial investigation. Former PNP chief, now retired General and Office of the President Undersecretary Debold M. Sinas was the guest of honor and speaker during the seminar.

Medina said that another batch of PNP-DEG personnel from Visayas and Mindanao will soon be deputized to pursue criminal cases against ‘high-value targets’ and their financial sources.

The PNP-DEG has been working solidly with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency headed by Director General Wilkins M. Villanueva in going after all identified Chinese drug smugglers and their Filipino contacts.

So far this year, multi-billion pesos worth of shabu have been seized by the PDEA and the PNP, along with other government law enforcement agencies in a series of anti-narcotics operations in Metro Manila and Calabarzon and Central Luzon region.

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