Money laundering joins list of crimes that flourished under Noynoy Aquino government

It looks like Philippine President Benigno Simeon Aquino is going out with a bang. Less than two months before the next Presidential Elections, an audacious cyber heist incident has sent shock waves around the world. If not for its sheer brazenness, that it involved a tiny Third World Catholic country like the Philippines makes this theft remarkable. Who would have thought, right? Whoever pulled this off – syphoning $81 million from a Bangladesh
Central Bank account in the United States and transferring it to the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) in Manila – deserves a spot in Ripley’s believe it or not. Hollywood should produce a show called Without a trace: Money Laundering based on this case.

Weak leadership led to steep rise in criminality in the Philippines.

Weak leadership led to steep rise in criminality in the Philippines.

And for the record, lest Aquino supporters pin the blame on the previous or next administration, this heist happened during BS Aquino’s watch. Yes, all kinds of scams, big and small have flourished during BS Aquino’s term. Some scams like the bullet-planting scam — extorting money from helpless passengers at the country’s international airport — went undetected by the General Manager of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), retired Brig. General Jose Angel Honrado. It is important to mention that Honrado is a close family friend of the President going way back during his mother’s term in office.

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This is just the kind of thing we need to prove to the international community once and for all, what an inutile government the Philippines has. It has been all but impotent in addressing the rampant criminality plaguing the nation. Criminality goes up when the leader is perceived as weak and incompetent. Indeed, the country has now become a safe haven for both local and foreign criminal syndicates.

Just look at the so-called “investigation” being conducted at the Philippine Senate. It’s all a farce. Most people know that the investigation is not going to amount to anything significant. It is neither going to get the money back nor throw the right people in jail. A lot of the senators are just using the latest scandal to grandstand and get some free media mileage. I wouldn’t be surprised if they actually welcome this event particularly since some of the senators are up for re-election or are running for higher office. This is free publicity for publicity-hungry public servants.

Frankly, if you ask some Filipinos, this theft is not something that would surprise them. They live in country where Congress is considered the biggest criminal syndicate in the country. Some of the members of Congress have been syphoning public funds for decades and they still get elected again and again. Perhaps some Filipinos would be surprised with the amount – it’s not big enough compared to the amount of money being stolen from the public on a regular basis. We are talking about billions of pesos annually being syphoned off through mechanisms such as Priority Development Assistance Funds and Disbursement Acceleration Program.

This money-laundering case is not something Philippine Congress can easily solve. Solving it would actually be against their very nature. Of course the only solution is to get rid of the country’s archaic bank secrecy laws, which are considered to be among the strictest in the world. Removing that law or even just amending it would mean going against themselves. Some (okay, not all) members of Congress could be hiding stolen public funds – accumulated throughout the years in secret bank accounts. This is precisely the reason why the antiquated law will not be going anywhere, anytime soon. Attempts to remove it will be met with outrage especially from the leader of the House of Representatives Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. He was against scrapping the law back in 2015 and would be against it for the same reason today:

Leaders of the House of Representatives yesterday rejected Malacañang’s proposal to scrap bank secrecy laws, saying it would discourage investors and could be used to persecute political opponents.

Malacañang earlier said it will support proposals from the Senate and the House to reduce income taxes if Congress will agree to lift bank secrecy to aid the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) in digging up hidden deposits for tax purposes.

“I am against it (scrapping bank secrecy) because this will scare off local and foreign investors,” Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said.

RCBC Jupiter Street branch Maia Santos-Deguito with her counsel Ferdinand Topacio. (Photo source:  GMA News)

RCBC Jupiter Street branch Maia Santos-Deguito with her counsel Ferdinand Topacio.
(Photo source: GMA News)

The irony of what Belmonte said escapes him. While the bank secrecy law, particularly Republic Act 6426 the Foreign Currency Deposit Act of the Philippines (FCDA), which makes the revelation of foreign currency details unlawful, is supposed to protect the depositor from prosecution, it did not help former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona back in 2012. Some allies of BS Aquino managed to get information about Corona’s dollar savings account even without his permission. It was used against him during his impeachment trial even when the charges against him did not include theft of public funds. The senator-judges during his trial did not even investigate who divulged his bank account details considering they broke the law.

Indeed, the laws of the land only work when you have the right connections. The question now is whether or not President BS Aquino is going to ask his allies to find the real culprits behind the Bangladesh bank heist. It has been noted that the President has been very quiet about this whole thing and is keeping a low profile. It is odd considering the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is involved too. One would think that BS Aquino would be compelled to do something drastic to solve the case as quickly as possible because it is putting the name of the Philippines in the hall of shame. I wouldn’t be surprised though if he and his supporters would quickly wash their hands off this. A valid excuse for BS Aquino would be to admit that he has become a lame duck and has lost the ability to pull any strings.

So what now? Bangladesh police have launched their own investigation and RCBC is also conducting their own internal investigation to find out who broke protocol in the bank’s layers of procedures. Someone has to know something. The smoke hasn’t cleared yet so we will all have to wait for the next bombshell. Something tells me the culprits are still removing some evidence – something the country’s bank secrecy laws allow them to do.

11 Replies to “Money laundering joins list of crimes that flourished under Noynoy Aquino government”

  1. how are they related to general antonio luna? curiosity tells it all that among the cojuangco siblings only jose, father of cory, is the richest. is cory the grandaughter of general antonio luna? the loot must have been still inside hacienda luisita?

  2. Benigno Aquino III, may have been involved in the Bangladesh/RCBC Heist. Since, Aquino , Abad , and Mar Roxas are good in stealing Funds, from any financial institution. Look at how they steal from the : DAP, PDAF, Pork Barrel Bribery,missing Typhoon Yolanda Relief Funds, etc…

    It is very easy for Aquino, Abad and Mar Roxas, to do that money transfer bank heist. All of them are silent, and not giving any statement. The Senate, will conduct, a show hearing. Porky Drilon, will become the Master of the Show. Congress will conduct the same hearing. That, idiot , Belmonte, will be the Master of the Show. Nothing will come out, of these hearings. The stolen money is gone. The thieves will live happily, ever after with their loots.

    Only in the Philippines, Dudes!!!

  3. is it RCBC who owned some land at hacienda luisita? ..the bank heist, 81 x 46 = 3,726,000,000.00 is this the philippines budget for 2016?

  4. May national candidate na makikinabang diyan. Syempre, Yellow ! Pagcor nilinis, eh! Nagtataka ako na ang RCBC ang nagsabi na fake ang signature ni Go sa dollar at peso accounts pero active ang peso account, may more than 100 transactions daw withdrawals/deposits. Dadaan sa clearing house ang mga check ni Go. Papayagan ba ng clearing kahit iba ang signature ? Duda tuloy ako na may sabwatan sa RCBC at William Go kasi pinadala lahat sa Head Office ang mga signature cards. Pwedeng palitan ang signature card at papirma sa iba.

  5. Nakakapagtaka lang na nakapagwithdraw ng cash na USD30M cash ang Philrem same day. Usually, kahit valued client ka, one day notice pag magwiwithdraw ang client ng USD5k and above. May approval sa Higher ups, at least sa Treasurer kundi man sa Pres ng RCBC ang USD30M cash. Nakakapagtaka rin na walang demanda ang AMLA kay William Go. Di naman pwede na ang RCBC ang nag-clear kay Go, dapat imbestigahan ng NBI ang signature card kung bago o luma ang pirma ng peso account

  6. Its just unfortunate for Benigno Aquino III and his cohorts that they are victims of Murphy’s Law. It says “If anything can go wrong, it will”. Such a bad time for BSA III, when things are starting to fall apart.It does not matter whether they are involved in this or not, but the general perception will be, “Of course they (Aquino and his court jesters) had a hand in it.” Very unfair to them if they are innocent, but very fitting if they are.

  7. The government should relax bank secrecy laws. The money that comes in because of this law is not the money we want. Honest money is better even if it is lesser. Many countries with bank secrecy laws are starting to dismantle them due to pressure from the us and some european states.

  8. mai-share ko lang po…OFW po ako..recently lang nagloan ako sa office namin ng 6000usd…ipinadala ko sa RCBC account ng wife ko..ang sistema nila eh..pinabalik nila sa banco ko sa abroad dahil hindi raw alam kung san galing.hindi raw pumayag ang head office at yun daw ang POLICY nila at ng ang liwanag naman sa transfer docs ko na yun eh family support ko …e di tuloy nag doble ang mga transfer charges ko..dahil nag two-way ang transactions…hayzz..tapos ..USD81M lumusot sa kanila.KARMA sa kanila yan…IM SURE 100% SANGKOT ANG HEAD OFFICE nila at ang AMLA.

  9. Changing much-cherished bank secrecy laws is worth the effort. Corruption, tax evasion, and the capture of natural resource revenues undermine the rule of law, weaken the social fabric, erode citizens’ trust in institutions, fuel conflict and insecurity, and hamper job creation.

  10. Never mind the bank secrecy laws….. vital info can just come in brown envelopes from some mysterious little ladies…

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