Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. has rejected a proposed inquiry by a member of the House of Representatives into the -million money laundering scam, saying the chamber will only step in if there are aspects that need to be clarified in the ongoing Senate probe of the heist.
Representative Terry Ridon of the Kabataan partylist group has proposed a separate investigation into the case, but Belmonte said this will only duplicate the Senate inquiry, which is now focusing on the possible coverup done in the illegal transfer of some million from the Bangladesh Bank to the Jupiter Street branch of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp.(RCBC).
“We trust the Senate will do a thorough job of it. If there are unclear points, we will step in,” the Speaker said.
Ridon has said he doubts that a mere branch level manager of RCBC, who is being pinned in the daring money laundering scheme, would be solely responsible in carrying out the crime.
Belmonte agreed with Ridon, saying that the illicit transaction was not the branch manager's handiwork alone.
“At most, she’s a small link who played into the hands of biggies and probably syndicates taking advantage of or in cahoots with casinos or gambling lords,” Belmonte said.
The Banker Association of the Philippines (BAP) has called for closed-door hearings on the money laundering scam to protect the country's banking system and remittance operations of local banks overseas.
BAP representative Roberto de Ocampo, a former finance secretary, said remittance operations of Philippine banks abroad are already facing tighter scrutiny from their partner foreign banks following the global controversy generated by the -million money laundering scam.
If remittance operations overseas are forced to close down, then this could pose serious problems for millions of overseas Filipino workers who send money to their families in the Philippines.
"I suggest that subsequent hearings be held behind closed doors since they will yield even more information and thus be more productive," De Ocampo said.