After six human rights activists, four of whom belong to the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), were designated as “terrorists” by the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) on June 7, 2023, the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) ordered – based on a resolution of June 30, 2023 – the freezing of the activists’ bank accounts, both personal and organisational. The CPA demands that the bank accounts of the activists and their relatives be unfrozen. “The designation is unjust, without factual basis, and done with clear, malicious intent to push individuals into silence,” CPA stressed.
In addition, human rights group Karapatan expressed concern over the issuance of Executive Order No. 33 (EO33), which directs all government agencies to implement the National Anti-Money Laundering, Counter-Terrorism Financing and Counter Proliferation Financing Strategy (NACS) from 2023-2027. The EO33 was signed by President Marcos on July 4, 2023, to remove the Philippines from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) “Gray List” where it had been given a place in 2021. The FATF is an informal intergovernmental body established during the 1987 G7 meeting.
It seems that the government wants to show through the EO33 that it is seriously and specifically pursuing money laundering cases. According to Karapatan, in order meet this goal, the government fabricates cases where non-governmental organisations are targeted, such as the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) or Amihan. Karapatan’s fears coincide with recent allegations of “terrorist financing” against the Community Empowerment Network, Inc (CERNET) in the Visayas region.
In a resolution dated July 26, 2023, the ATC also designated Congressman Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr. as a “terrorist”. Teves and 12 others are also under investigation for involvement in the murder of former Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo.
Photo © Raffy Lerma