House repeals Marcos era Public Assembly Act, imposes stiffer penalties for hacking of banking system

Published February 6, 2018, 11:58 AM

by Nida Ramos-Oribiana

By Ben Rosario

With a unanimous vote, the House of Representatives passed yesterday bills proposing to repeal the Marcos-era Public Assembly Act of 1985 and imposing stiffer penalties for skimming and hacking of the banking system, other financial system frauds, and economic sabotage violations.

With 216 votes, the Lower House passed on third and final reading House bill 6834 which seeks to strengthen the people’s right to free expression, peaceful assembly, and petition the government for redress and grievances.


HB 6710 which aims to avert losses in the financial and trade sector due to illegal use of electronic access devices was also approved by 224 votes.

Congressmen also approved the following measures:

HB 6649 that proposes to further strengthen the pre-departure orientation program for overseas Filipino workers to include financial and entrepreneurial education, thus, amending Republic Act 8042 or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995.” The bill’s authors are Reps. Scott Davies Lanete  (NUP, Masbate) and Weslie T. Gatchalian (NPC, Valenzuela City);

HB 6772 that proposes to ensure the preservation and management of protected areas under the National Integrated Protected Areas Systems Act of 1992. This bill consolidated proposals filed by Reps. Mikee Romero (1-Pacman Partylist); Alfredo Garbin (Ako Bicol Partylist); Christopher Co. (Ako Bicol Partylist) and Josephine Ramirez Sato (LP, Mindoro Occidental);

HB 6907  that seeks to strengthen the legal frameworks for the creation, perfection, determination of priority rights and enforcement of security interests in personal property and the establishment of a notice of registry.  Authors include Reps. Anthony Bravo (Coop-Nattco Partylist) and Ben Evardone (PDP-Laban, Eastern Samar);

Sponsored by the House Committee on People’s Participation, HB 6845 consolidated five different bills seeking to repeal the Public Assembly Act of 1985 that was approved by the late president Ferdinand Marcos. The bills were filed by Reps. Valentina Plaza (PDP-Laban, Agusan del Sur); Carlos Isagani Zarate (Bayan Muna Partylist); Makmod Mending Jr. (Anak Mindanao); Ma. Vida Espinosa Bravo (NUP, Masbate) and former Rep. Harry Roque of Kabayan Partylist.

HB 6834 will repeal Batas Pambansa 880, a law passed by the Batasan Pambansa under the administration of the late president Ferdinand Marcos which makes it mandatory for rally organizers to secure a rally permit, thereby, granting local executives the right to deny or approve a protest action in their locality.

Under HB 6834, groups or persons merely need to serve a notice to  a city or municipal mayor, for the conduct of mass action.

Further, the proposed measure guarantees that absence of notice cannot be cited as a reason to disperse the public assembly. Participants of such mass action will not be held liable under the law.

Under the bill, the military, police and other law enforcement agencies and persons who disagree with the purpose of the public assembly are prohibited from interfering.

HB  6710 defines and imposes stiff penalties for acts of hacking, skimming, possession of skimming device or any electronic gadget to pursue banking fraud and unauthorized accessing, with or without authority, any application, online banking account, credit card account, ATM account and debit card account in a fraudulent manner.

Defended on the floor by Evardone, chairman of the House Committee on Banking and Financial Intermediaries, HB 6710 proposes to impose life imprisonment and a fine ranging from P1 million to P5 million for offenses constituting economic sabotage such as hacking a bank’s system and skimming that affects at least 50 or more ATM, credit and debit cards, and online banking accounts.

On the other hand, the proposed law seeks to to impose a minimum of 12 years and maximum of 20 years as prison sentence against persons possessing 10 or more counterfeit access devices and unauthorized access devices and was able to access at least one account through fraudulent means;

Fine imposed on violation is twice the equivalent of the aggregate amount of all affected or exposed bank accounts but not less than P500,000.

Imprisonment of six to 12 years and a fine of not less than P300,000 will be meted out for possession of ten or more counterfeit access devices but was not proven to have accessed any bank account.

For committing fraud in obtaining credit, an imprisonment of four to six years and a fine of twice the obtained value of credit await violators.