Philippine lawmakers said yesterday they will pass an amended dirty-money law to avert sanctions set to be imposed by the Financial Action Taskforce on March 15. The breakthrough came after 16 of the 23 senators met foreign anti-money-laundering experts, some of whom represent their governments on the taskforce. Claire Lo Ku Ka-lee, commissioner for narcotics with Hong Kong's Security Bureau, stressed the taskforce would impose sanctions 'if, and only if, the Philippines fails to meet the March 15 deadline'. Another Security Bureau official, Diana Wong Wai-on, said: 'Not just Filipino workers in Hong Kong but all countries that have transactions with the Philippines would be affected.' After Monday night's meeting, all 16 senators agreed on amendments, Senate president Franklin Drilon said. The Senate last month blocked most of the changes the taskforce required. 'I don't see any more obstacles that will stop our law from passing international standards,' he said. Senator Edgardo Angara, who had criticised the taskforce for blackmailing the country, said yesterday the meeting clarified how they could change the law to meet international standards. Another vocal critic, Senator Joker Arroyo, said he was surprised the financial watchdog group 'was not as strict' as Philippine economic officials had painted them. 'In fact, I felt relieved that we finally reached agreement,' said Senator Arroyo, who had opposed lifting the requirement that court orders be obtained on domestic crimes involving suspect funds. The senators blamed Central Bank governor Rafael Buenaventura, who chairs the Anti-Money Laundering Council, for relaying 'filtered' information to them. Senator Drilon said: 'He [Buenaventura] wanted this bill in the way he shaped it because it would have given him immense power.'