In an effort to defend his boss, Amando Tetangco, from criticisms expressed by the victims of the Ampatuan Massacre that the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) which Tetangco chairs, has done nothing to cause the freezing of the Ampatuan assets, AMLC Executive Director Vicente S. Aquino wrote to say that my view on their inaction was “hazy”. This is precisely the type of reaction responsible for the country’s latest notoriety as a leading “drug money laundering center” in the world. Judging from Aquino’s letter, he appears to be ignorant of the true responsibilities of the AMLC, or maybe simply playing dumb.
First, he belabors the point that the AMLAC has no power to freeze assets. This is inaccurate. Under the law, the AMLC has power to freeze assets for fifteen days. Beyond this period, a court order is required. But it is still the function of the AMLC to gather evidence to prove probable cause that the funds are proceeds of an illegal act. What actions has AMLC done in this regard? When the widows filed their Petition with the AMLC last November 4, 2010, they did so out of their frustration that one year after the massacre, the AMLC has not filed any action to freeze the Ampatuan assets. Whose responsibility is this in the first place? The victims or the AMLC?
To parry the victims’ frustration, AMLC’s Atty Richard Funk II, who had the decency and courtesy to meet with the widows in a meeting which was supposed to be attended by Aquino, assured the widows that the AMLC has in fact been quietly investigating the Amputuans, a fact which Aquino repeated in his letter. Former Justice Secretary Agnes Denenadera also confirmed this fact to the media a month after the massacre. And yet, Aquino also stated that, “Indeed 500 days have already lapsed since the massacre. Yet, it was only on 4 November 2010 that victims families filed with the AMLC a “Joint Petition to Investigate x x x” There is a contradiction here. While Aquino has said that they have not been remised as they have been investigating the Ampatuans since the massacre, he apparently wants to be responsible for dereliction reckoned only from the time when the victims filed their Petition. So when will the AMLC finally take the required steps? When the Ampatuans had already hidden the entirety of their assets? Maybe this is the game plan.
Aquino then states that murder cannot be a predicate crime under the law. This was not the position of the AMLC’s own investigators, including its Atty. Funk. But in any case, assuming this to be the case, the law still classifies as predicate crime violations of Section 3 paragraphs B, C, E, G, H and I of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. These acts include:
“(b) Directly or indirectly requesting or receiving any gift, present, share, percentage, or benefit, for himself or for any other person, in connection with any contract or transaction between the Government and any other part, wherein the public officer in his official capacity has to intervene under the law.
(c) Directly or indirectly requesting or receiving any gift, present or other pecuniary or material benefit, for himself or for another, from any person for whom the public officer, in any manner or capacity, has secured or obtained, or will secure or obtain, any Government permit or license, in consideration for the help given or to be given, without prejudice to Section thirteen of this Act.
(e) Causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence. This provision shall apply to officers and employees of offices or government corporations charged with the grant of licenses or permits or other concessions.
(g) Entering, on behalf of the Government, into any contract or transaction manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the same, whether or not the public officer profited or will profit thereby.
(h) Directly or indirectly having financial or pecuniary interest in any business, contract or transaction in connection with which he intervenes or takes part in his official capacity, or in which he is prohibited by the Constitution or by any law from having any interest”.
Surely, the 3 Billion in cash reported by the ABS-CBN as belonging to the Ampatuans, and the “35 mansions and a fleet of wheels” written by Carol Arguilles as also belonging to the clan will be enough basis to investigate them for any of the crimes enumerated in the above-quoted provision of Section 3 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Acts. To Executive Director Aquino: no, the view from Malcolm is not hazy. It is simply that you, your Boss Amando Tetangco, and your fellow GMA appointee, Merceditas Gutierrez, have all opted instead to turn a blind eye to the predicate crimes required to freeze the Ampatuan asset. You also have blood in your hands. #30#