28 C
Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Deeper into the muck

It seems that scammers have been able to easily register SIM cards using fake identification cards

Ako Bicol Partylist Rep. Elizalde Co has done the right thing in calling for the unmasking of those behind the controversial fund transfer of P3 billion from the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) to the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

Students from poor and underprivileged sectors whose families want them to acquire quality education amid inadequate internet connectivity in the country deserve clear answers on who bungled the management of the budget for a government program touted to provide ‘Wifi for All.”

What happened was that Congress allotted P13 billion for the DICT to boost connectivity in the entire archipelago. But lo and behold, P3 billion of the amount was found to have been ‘suspiciously’ wired to MMDA.

In a recent congressional hearing, Co, chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, sought the intervention of the Commission on Audit (COA) to get to the bottom of the multi-billion anomaly.

The lawmaker said the COA should find out who were the individuals and parties involved in the fund transfer scam.

“Once identified, the perpetrators should be punished so others would not follow their misdeeds,” he said.

Rep. Co urged the COA to probe an MMDA executive who was believed to have been transferred to DICT to personally facilitate the ‘irregular’ fund transfer.

Despite being designated as an officer-in-charge who, by law, does not possess the authority to sign, the said official affixed his signature to the irregular transaction.

After “fulfilling” his mission, he was reverted to MMDA.

“I have information that this guy was intentionally moved from MMDA to DICT to see to it that the anomalous transaction is consummated,” the lawmaker added.

The transfer of the P3 billion from DICT to MMDA may have been successful. But it’s now the subject of a heated congressional hearing.

During the hearing, DICT executives admitted MMDA has already returned the fund to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

More than a sign of guilt, the move to surrender the fund, experts say, puts the MMDA into even deeper trouble.

Rep. Co’s fellow legislator Northern Samar Rep. Paul Daza also asked the COA to shed light on why a lone bidder bagged the contract with the MMDA for the NCR Fiber Optic Backbone Development Project despite reports it failed to possess qualifying requirements.

Meanwhile, the solar street lights for Metro Manila, another billion-peso project of MMDA, was also won by a sole bidder, a company which is said not to have the capability to implement the project.

The company has a Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board (PCAB) license but of low category, thus it was not qualified to be awarded the more than P1 billion solar street lights project.

How many more of such deals can we expect to be unravelled in the days and months ahead?

One too many, we think, with taxpayers ultimately ending up the loser.

Proliferation of online scams

The Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) has raised the alarm over the big increase in cybercrime cases, particularly online scams.

In fact, it says, online scams have gotten worse recently and even exceeded the country’s problem with illegal drugs.

Data from the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group show from January to August this year alone, it had investigated 16,297 cases of cybercrime cases, which led to the arrest of 397 individuals and the rescue of 4,092 human trafficking victims.

Of these cybercrime cases, 57 percent, or 9,266 were online scams, or cases punishable under Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code for swindling or estafa.

Among the most reported online crimes were online selling scams, call scams, investment scams, package scams, ATM fraud, employment scams and loan scams.

Online scammers earn more than those who sell illegal drugs, the PAOCC said.

And the risk of these criminals getting arrested is lower than those who are into drug trafficking because online scammers hide behind a fake identity and only need to operate online, which makes it difficult to go after them.

It seems that scammers have been able to easily register SIM cards using fake identification cards.

The SIM registration law was supposed to deter criminal activities using electronic communication, such as mobile phishing, text spam, online scams, bank fraud, and identity theft.


- Advertisement -


Popular Articles