The banking sector will partner with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to hold cyber criminals accountable, prosecuted and jailed.

Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP) President Arnulfo “Wick” Veloso said on Wednesday, Nov. 17, that they will soon sign a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the DOJ to speed up the process of jailing perpetrators of cyber-related crimes such as money mules and phishing.

“We are going to find you (cyber criminals) and we are going to lock you up. (They) will pay for their crimes,” said Veloso during Wednesday’s signing of a separate MOA with the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) for its #CYBERSECURITYX campaign.

Veloso, who is CEO and president of Lucio Tan-led Philippine National Bank, said the impending DOJ deal will help implement existing laws against cyber crimes and shorten delays in prosecution. He said the BAP and DOJ must work together so that existing laws will be enforced to put cyber criminals behind bars.

“The partnership with DOJ aims to train cyber crime enforcers and prosecutors.

Our government is a major partner for us as we seek to hold cyber criminals for their actions,” he said.

Closely working with DOJ will help in upholding the rule of law in cybersecurities and to address “choke points”, said Veloso.

One of the constraints in persecuting cyber criminals is unfamiliarity in filing police reports and in identifying the victim and the guilty party.

“What we would like to do is to allow Juan de la Cruz — the moment he becomes a victim of cybercrime — to have the ability to go to the police and file a report, (get it) submitted to the local court and a prosecutor is able to put a case together. The court will now be able to chase and put behind bars those perpetrators,” said Veloso.

Bank of the Philippine Islands’ EVP and chief operating officer, Ramon Jocson, said losses due to fraud and unauthorized bank transfers have reached more than P1 billion this year. “These are victims of scams,” he said.

In terms of the volume, Jocson estimates that it has gone up three times compared to 2019. “Partly this is caused by the increase in digital transactions during the time of COVID,” he said. He cited Kaspersky surveys that said that one of three internet users in the Philippines are scammed or phished. Kaspersky is a global cybersecurity and solutions provider.

Jocson said another survey and study done by Cisco, a tech conglomerate, showed that 57 percent of all small and medium enterprises here have been hacked and the China-based UnionPay said that 37 percent of internet users in the Philippines have been phished.

BAP said phishing, a cybercrime where fraudsters duped customers of banks via emails, phones or texts to hack their security information, has become bolder and that several banks are now investigating complaints to catch and penalize criminals.

BAP has been calling for the quick passage of the Bank Account and E-Wallet Regulation Act under the proposed House Bill No. 9615 to stem the rapid growth of cyber-related crimes in the banking sector. Under the proposed bill, those who are found guilty of phishing will be imprisoned for six to 12 years and fined P200,000 to P500,000.

In a separate statement, the BAP also on Nov. 17 launched its Anti-Scam Campaign which is “a wide-ranging information campaign undertaken with various partners that aims to promote cybersecurity, cybersafety, and awareness among the Filipino banking public.”

The BAP is partnering the government, social media influencers and the media. The Bank Marketing Association of the Philippines is BAP’s partner for its Anti-Scam campaign on social media.

“The Philippines is currently a cybercrime hotspot, underscoring the need to increase awareness and vigilance against the increasing prevalence of cybercrime in the country,” said Veloso.

Source: Manila Bulletin (