Senate panel to probe influx of foreign cash to PH on Thursday
Robie de Guzman • March 4, 2020 • 912
MANILA, Philippines – The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, led by Senator Richard Gordon, is set to investigate on Thursday, March 5, the reported influx of billions of pesos-worth of foreign cash brought into the country by alleged organized syndicates.
Gordon, in a Senate session on Wednesday, revealed that from September 2019 to February 2020, $447 million or equivalent to P22.7 billion were brought into the country based on the report of the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
The sums of cash were allegedly carried by 47 individuals, mostly Chinese nationals, arriving in the Philippines from Hong Kong and Singapore.
Gordon said the large sums of cash were declared as investment and gambling funds.
The BOC earlier said that couriers of the money are able to escape detection because they are escorted by police, military or airport officials, based on their monitoring.
“Everyday, may pumapasok. Every other day, ‘yung taong nagpasok, meron na naman siya, three days later. So, talagang masusi ang trabaho,” Gordon said.
Under Philippine laws, any person is required to declare any amount exceeding $10,000 or its equivalent to other foreign currency being brought into or out of the country.
The senator said Thursday’s hearing seeks to probe whether the influx of foreign cash into the country is linked to the operation of offshore gaming firms in the country which mostly employ Chinese nationals.
He added that Blue Ribbon panel also wants to know if these sums of money are being used in any illegal trade or activities.
Gordon said an invitation to attend the hearing has already been sent to officials from the AMLC, DOF, Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Immigration. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Ricard Gordon has renewed his call for the reopening of the Subic Bay International Airport (SBIA) to accommodate flights carrying repatriating overseas Filipino workers (OFW) amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.
In a statement on Sunday, Gordon pointed out that the Subic Airport is “very suitable” for receiving arriving OFWs because it has facilities for the accommodation, testing, and quarantine of repatriates.
He also said that the newly opened Philippine Red Cross molecular laboratory in Subic and Clark can also accommodate a combined capacity for running up to 4,000 tests a day.
Gordon noted that more than 300,000 OFWs are expected to arrive in the next three to four months, and diverting flights carrying repatriates to SBIA would help facilitate their testing and immediate travel to their respective provinces after their test results have been released.
“Kahapon kinausap ko si Sec. Art Tugade at sabi ko Art, matagal ka nang nangangako sa kin, buksan mo na ‘yung airport ng Subic para diyan maglanding ‘yung ibang OFWs para ma-test na sila kaagad-agad,” he said.
Gordon also said that arriving ships carrying Filipino seafarers can dock at the Subic seaport.
“Dati sa Manila Bay sila nagte-test, ang hirap pumasok. Sa Subic, kalmado ang tubig kaya mas madaling pasukin ng Coast Guard ‘yung mga barko para makapag-swab sila sa mga seafarers,” he said.
Gordon further said that using the SBIA for OFW repatriation efforts could jumpstart the resumption of its operations for international flights and reactivate its tourism industry.
“Once we have tested everybody here we can advertise to the whole world, ‘we have already tested all the employees here, we have tested everyone here so now you are welcome to come down here.’ And jobs can be generated right away,” he said.
Gordon said a P500-million budget has been allocated in the 2019 budget for the rehabilitation of the SBIA.
Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chairman, Senator Richard Gordon believes that President Rodrigo Duterte is being “misled by his own people” regarding the alleged money laundering in the Philippine Offshore Gaming Corporation (POGO).
“Mr. President, you are being misled by your people. You better check. You’re a lawyer as well, most respectfully,” he said.
On Monday evening (March 9), Duterte said he was not convinced with the money laundering allegations against POGO operations in the country.
“I wish the President wouldn’t make remarks like that especially since a co-equal branch of government is investigating a very, very serious situation where hundreds of millions of dollars are coming into our country,” Gordon said.
According to Gordon, the President should listen to the Senate because of the clear evidence collected from their investigations.
During the Senate hearing last week, the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) revealed that P14 billion out of the P54 billion worth of POGO transactions from 2017 to 2019 were linked to “suspicious activities.” —AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)
Senator Richard Gordon revealed Tuesday (March 10) that someone attempted to bribe him with P25 million so he would drop the investigation on the alleged money laundering through the Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGO).
Gordon, who is also the chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, said a friend told him that a certain Rodriguez group allegedly offered a donation worth P5 million to the Philippine Red Cross.
They also offered to give the senator P20 million just to stop the public hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on the alleged money laundering through POGO.
“Sabi ko, hindi ko ginagawa iyan, (I told them I don’t do that)” Gordon said during an interview with reporters. “I am chagrined. Ang lalakas ng loob ng mga ito na akala nila lahat kaya nilang bilhin (They are very confident to think that they can buy everything).”
The senator also said the bribery attempt only showed that the said family may have been involved in illegal activities.
Gordon added that bulks of money continue to enter the country. He reported that USD 500 million reportedly entered the country on Tuesday (March 10).
Meanwhile, Gordon reiterated they will continue the investigation on the money laundering allegations on Thursday (March 12).—AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)
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