The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) have signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to implement criminal and civil forfeitures of laundered money believed to be proceeds of illegal drug activities.
PDEA Director General Wilkins Villanueva and AMLC Executive Director lawyer Mel Georgie Racela signed the agreement Tuesday at the PDEA National Headquarters in Quezon City.
“Under the new agreement, both parties pledged to work hand in hand in the filing of cases involving the forfeiture of properties and other assets of persons/ or corporations found to be violating Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Act of 2002, and the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA),” Villanueva said.
Under the MOA, PDEA shall refer to the AMLC drug-related cases for financial investigation, and if warranted, filing of cases involving freeze order, civil forfeiture, and money laundering, accompanied with specified case documents that are admissible in court.
Villanueva said in the prosecution of a criminal case involving unlawful activities under the AMLA, the PDEA would endeavor to forfeit all properties, real or personal, nominally or beneficially owned by the respondent/accused, representing proceeds derived from the unlawful act/s, in favor of the government.
“This also includes properties found to be manifestly out of proportion to his/her lawful income; and the instruments or tools with which the particular unlawful act was committed. Assets reflected in the inventory, such as motor vehicles, cash, jewelry, and real properties that are in the custody of the law, shall be likewise forfeited,” he added.
On the other hand, the AMLC is at the forefront of civil forfeiture of monetary instruments and properties believed to be used in laundering activities involving drug money. These may include the same properties, proceeds, instruments, or tools sought to be criminally forfeited.
Aside from the filing of cases, PDEA provides assistance and collaboration in the investigation and prosecution of its referred cases to AMLC. PDEA’s officers may act as witnesses, and may follow-up on AMLC cases in courts.
In return, the AMLC may request PDEA for assistance in the service of court orders or issuance subject of its case referrals. Last March 5, PDEA and AMLC also signed an agreement "to promote and encourage cooperation to effectively prevent, control, detect and investigate unlawful activities under the AMLA."
PDEA and AMLC are members of the National Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee-Sub-Committee on Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (NALECC Sub-Committee AML/CFT), and of the Enforcement Cluster of the Inter-Agency Committee on Illegal Drugs (ICAD).
“We need to track down the trail of drug money, arrest the perpetrators, and freeze their assets while they are being prosecuted.
This would deprive them the financial means to bail themselves out of jail,” Villanueva said.