Senate panel to probe influx of foreign cash to PH on Thursday

Robie de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, led by Senator Richard Gordon, is set to investigate on Thursday, March 5, the reported influx of billions of pesos-worth of foreign cash brought into the country by alleged organized syndicates.

Gordon, in a Senate session on Wednesday, revealed that from September 2019 to February 2020, $447 million or equivalent to P22.7 billion were brought into the country based on the report of the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

The sums of cash were allegedly carried by 47 individuals, mostly Chinese nationals, arriving in the Philippines from Hong Kong and Singapore.

Gordon said the large sums of cash were declared as investment and gambling funds.

The BOC earlier said that couriers of the money are able to escape detection because they are escorted by police, military or airport officials, based on their monitoring.

“Everyday, may pumapasok. Every other day, ‘yung taong nagpasok, meron na naman siya, three days later. So, talagang masusi ang trabaho,” Gordon said.

Under Philippine laws, any person is required to declare any amount exceeding $10,000 or its equivalent to other foreign currency being brought into or out of the country.

The Department of Finance (DOF) earlier ordered the BOC to coordinate with the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to investigate the matter.

The senator said Thursday’s hearing seeks to probe whether the influx of foreign cash into the country is linked to the operation of offshore gaming firms in the country which mostly employ Chinese nationals.

He added that Blue Ribbon panel also wants to know if these sums of money are being used in any illegal trade or activities.

Gordon said an invitation to attend the hearing has already been sent to officials from the AMLC, DOF, Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Immigration. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

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