CAMARINES Sur Rep. Luis Ray Villafuerte is urging Congress to act swiftly on a measure passed by a House committee to add more teeth to the efforts of regulatory agencies to combat cybercrimes by penalizing social engineering schemes, commonly known as “phishing” that lead to illegal financial activities.
The committee-approved consolidated measure, which includes his House Bill No. 10141, aims 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.
“Our ongoing efforts to accelerate the country’s digital switch must be complemented by measures to safeguard consumers against cyber threats and other illegal online schemes,” Villafuerte said.
“The recent gains in the digitalization of financial services should not result to adverse consequences for our people, especially during this prolonged pandemic,” he added.
HB 10141 and other similar bills were substituted with a consolidated bill that was approved in principle last week by the House committee on banks and financial intermediaries chaired by Quirino Rep. Junie Cua.
The committee is now preparing a report for the panel’s immediate final approval and for endorsement of the proposal to the plenary.
Villafuerte cited that the incidence of cybercrime has risen with the rapid shift in the way people live and use the Internet to interact both socially and economically.
“It is unsurprising that criminals have taken advantage of the digitalization of banking, payment and related systems. COVID-19 has presented several new opportunities for cybercriminal exploitation, including remote work, virtual crime and persistent threats,” he said.
While banks have increased their efforts in addressing cybercrimes, and consumers have also become increasingly vigilant against such offenses, the country still has no law against the use of financial accounts as accessory to a financial crime.
“Worse, there is no punishment that can deter these criminal actions,” he stressed.