To have the Philippines removed from the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF’s) gray list is among President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr’s directives to all government agencies for 2024. This he expressed on January 02, 2024 in Malacañang Palace during a gathering of high-ranking government officials, which included Sec. Katrina Ponce Enrile, Administrator and Chief Executive Officer of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA).
FATF is an international intergovernmental watchdog that works on harmonized efforts to monitor and stop money laundering and financial terrorism. It can be noted that the Philippines was included in the FATF’s gray list back in June 2021 due to some deficiencies found in the entry and exit of suspicious funds. Inclusion on the list can put a country in a bad light, especially in earning the trust and confidence of potential foreign investors. Recently, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) recognized the progress that the Philippines has been making for the latter’s removal in the FATF gray list, and advised to continually undertake the necessary steps for its eventual removal in the said list.
On a side interview after the said gathering, Sec. Enrile acknowledged the significance of protecting the financial system of the country for economic and financial stability. She also gave her one hundred percent (100%) commitment to support President Bongbong’s directives, including the latter’s call to have the country removed from the FATF’s gray list.
She revealed that CEZA has been actively working with the investment promotions agencies (IPAs) and the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to raise public awareness against money laundering and other financial crimes, establish a solid supervisory framework, and reinforce monitoring and prosecutions against criminals.
The CEZA Head also vowed to continuously work and even further strengthen its advocacy against financial crimes. “Our strategic efforts to promote investments in the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport (CSEZFP) go hand-in-hand with our efforts to strengthen our capability to monitor and fight criminal activities like money laundering and other financial crimes. For this reason, among my initial efforts in rebranding CEZA include strengthening our oversight capacity and repackaging our existing products, like financial technology (fintech) and gaming, to include a solid regulatory framework that can protect the interest of the government, the locators and their clients,” Sec. Enrile shared.
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