Recent online bank 'heists' driving force behind anti-cybercrime bill's ratification

Published February 11, 2022, 2:19 PM

by Seth Cabanban

The House of Representatives ratified House Bill (HB) 10689, a bill aimed toward combating “phishing,” online fraud, and other forms of cybercrime following the recent spate of alleged phishing and hacking incidents involving Banco De Oro (BDO) and Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP).


Formally titled “An Act Regulating the Use of Bank Accounts, Electronic Wallets, and Other Financial Accounts,” HB 10689 was principally authored by Camarines Sur 2nd district Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte and serves as a substitute for its previous iteration, HB 10141.

“We are hopeful that President Duterte will sign this measure into law as soon as the enrolled bill is submitted to Malacañang Palace… to regulate the use of bank accounts and electronic wallets and consider certain illegal financial acts related to their use as a form of economic sabotage and a heinous crime if done on a large scale,” said Villafuerte in a press statement on Friday, Feb. 11.

Under the bill, acts such as hacking, phishing, the use of “money mules”, and other cybercrimes will become punishable by law.

These acts have also been defined as “social engineering schemes” as advised by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) in order to be consistent with existing laws.

Furthermore, the opening of “money mule” accounts or e-wallets to store funds acquired through illegal activities, and the creation of aforementioned accounts using false or stolen identities will be prohibited.

Should this bill be passed into law, punishments for violators may range from P1 million to P5 million in fines and lifetime imprisonment.

“The coronavirus [disease] pandemic (COVID-19) has presented new opportunities for cybercriminal exploitation, including remote work, virtual crime and persistent threats. Worse, there is no punishment that can deter these criminal actions,” explained Villafuerte.

According to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), hacking and other cybercrime incidents increased 2,323 percent in 2020 from 2019 while phishing and social engineering schemes increased by 301 percent in the same period.

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