PH gov’t to look into report that AusAID money went to Maute terrorist
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government will look into a report that aid money from the Australian government found its way to a Maute terrorist who was contracted to do social projects, Malacañang said on Saturday, December 2.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a news briefing in Zamboanga City that the government will get comments from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) on the probe, since it supposedly involved "a form of money laundering."
Roque was responding to questions in relation to a report of Australian publication The Weekend Australian, that the Australian government “paid one of the seven Maute brothers” responsible for the Marawi siege, when it contracted him for school-related projects in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
“We’ll look into this allegation that AusAID fund was sent to Maute. This shows that we really need to implement anti-money laundering act because ang nangyayari dito this is really a form of laundering na aid money used for terrorism,” Roque said.
(We’ll look into this allegation that AusAID fund was sent to Maute. This shows that we really need to implement anti-money laundering act because what happened here, this is a form of laundering wherein aid money used for terrorism.)
"Definitely, I think we will look into this. The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) has to be informed," he added.
The Palace official admitted that he had yet to read the report and would have to verify it with the AMLC.
“I find it hard to believe because the Australians are very tough on terrorism too. So I do not know how this can happen to AusAID,” Roque said.
The project involved is the Basic Education Assistance for Muslim Mindanao (BEAM) funded by the Australian government and implemented by the Department of Education-ARMM, which ran from 2012 to 2017.
The story, "AusAID cash went to Marawi terrorist," was published on November 11.
"The Weekend Australian has learnt that Mohammadkhayam (sic) Maute, the eldest brother, was contracted to help build classrooms, science laboratories and school libraries across the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao in a scheme funded through the former AusAID agency, now absorbed into the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade," the report said.
The report was referring to Mohammad Khayam Maute, the operation and intelligence head of the Maute Group. (READ: The Maute Group and the rise of family terrorism)
The contract was coursed through the Maute family's Alkhayam Sultana Construction company registered in the name of Najivya Sultana Koran Maute, one of Mohammadkhayam’s wives. Both are civil engineers, The Weekend Australian report said.
The report questioned the due diligence of the Australian government in awarding contracts, especially as the Maute Group had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS) in 2014. (READ: Terror in Mindanao: the Mautes of Marawi).
The report also said that according to the spokesperson of Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade discovered the Maute link in an audit of the project in 2015, following the underperformance of subcontractor Habitat for Humanity.
Bishop's office said "Habitat for Humanity had contracted some of the classroom construction work to a local firm associated with the Maute family."
The Weekend Australian report said that according to the spokesperson, the Maute contract was terminated once the subcontractor was fired, and there was no finding that the fund had been diverted from the projects. – Rappler.com