THE SENATE Blue Ribbon Committee will investigate on Thursday the alleged money laundering scheme of bringing in cash through individuals arriving at international airports.
Senator Richard J. Gordon, chair of the committee, on Tuesday reported that some $447 million or P22.69 billion worth of cash were brought in by over 40 individuals to the Philippines over a five-month period.
“Normally, the moment you go over $10,000, you have to declare, (but) just because you declared doesn’t mean you’re not a money launderer,” Mr. Gordon said in his privilege speech.
Under central bank regulations, a person may carry up to US$10,000 — or equivalent in any other foreign currency — into and out of the Philippines in cash or other monetary instruments.
Beyond that amount, the carrier must have a written declaration using the Bangko Central ng Pilipinas’ prescribed Foreign Currency and Other FX-Denominated Bearer Monetary Instruments Declaration Form.
Mr. Gordon, during his presentation, showed a list of 47 individuals, including Filipinos, and the respective amounts of cash brought in between September 2019 to February 2020.
Of this total amount, he said some $210 million or P10.6 billion were brought in by Chinese nationals.
Mr. Gordon also cited a certain Simon Rodriguez who was apprehended for failure to declare $700,000 in September.
Mr. Rodriguez was reported to have returned at a later date and also brought in a huge amount of money, but made the declaration this time.
“Does that mean (just because it was) declared, hindi na natin hahanapin yung pera? Dapat hanapin natin kung san napunta ang pera. Kung wala sa law ‘yan (we will no longer track where that money is? We should find out where that money went. If that is not in the law), is it time that we chane the law?”
Moreover, Mr. Gordon raised concern over the accommodation arrangements of workers in Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs).
The committee’s investigations showed that POGO workers occupy properties in an upper middle class village in Parañaque City.
Each house caters to more or less 50 individuals. — Charmaine A. Tadalan