Senate investigation requested into cybertheft crimes

Senator Richard Gordon has tabled a resolution calling for a Senate investigation into cybertheft crimes, including unauthorized withdrawals from government employees’ bank accounts.

“The Senate should conduct an investigation, in support of legislation, on strengthening existing relevant cybersecurity legislation in close cooperation with law enforcement to adequately protect the Filipino people, especially the most vulnerable. and the financial security of their individuals and families who are critically dependent on our collective cybersecurity,” said Gordon, chairman of the Senate Justice and Human Rights Committee, during the tabling of Resolution 987.

“The Senate is obligated to act on the vicious commission of cybercrimes against the Filipino people, especially against teachers and other public servants, private employees and corporations that take away their hard-earned savings, violate their financial security, assault their cybersecurity and disregard their rights,” he added.

Under the Cybercrime Prevention Act, the senator said it is necessary to protect and maintain the integrity of computers and computer systems, networks and databases against abuse, misuse and illegal access.

Benjo Basas, president of the Coalition for Teacher Dignity, said in an interview that 20 teachers and DepEd staff reported unauthorized transactions on their Land Bank accounts, with the amount of money lost ranging from 160,000 to 200,000 pesos.

The Commerce Department’s consumer protection group also reported that there had been an increase in the number of complaints relating to online transactions since the start of the pandemic.

For its part, LandBank said it welcomes the National Bureau of Investigation’s investigation into phishing allegations targeting teachers.

LandBank President and CEO Cecilia Borromeo said the state bank was also coordinating with DepEd for the list of teachers who were allegedly phished.

“We will actively participate in this investigation and extend our full cooperation to the BNI in an effort to further secure our depositors’ hard-earned money. We are also reaching out to affected teachers and conducting an internal investigation into their complaints. In the meantime, we assure our customers and the general public that LandBank’s systems remain stable and secure,” Borromeo said.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Bankers Association, the organization of universal and commercial banks, hailed the successful efforts of the National Bureau of Investigation to catch the perpetrators of the “Nagoyo” scam.

“We thank the National Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice for their successful collaboration in holding cybercriminals accountable for what they have done. Their actions demonstrate that cybercriminals will never go unpunished for victimizing the Filipino banking public and stealing their hard-earned savings,” BAP Chairman Jose Arnulfo Veloso said in a statement over the weekend.

“BAP and its member banks have full confidence in the capabilities of our law enforcement and judicial system. We hope the perpetrators of the scam and their victims benefit from a fair and prompt resolution,” Veloso said.

Nestor Tan, President and CEO of BDO Unibank Inc., assured customers that all their cybercrime concerns would be addressed immediately.

BAP is set to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Justice on February 4, 2022 to cement the strong partnership between the banking industry and the national government in the fight against cybercrime.

The MOU will facilitate the creation of a collective, coordinated and strategic cyber response that is crucial in this time of heightened cybercrime.

Earlier, NBI said that at least 5 people including two Nigerians have been arrested for their alleged involvement in the massive BDO hacking incidents.

The individuals arrested were part of the “Mark Nagoyo Heist Group”, which was identified as the perpetrators of the hacking incidents which affected more than 700 customers.

Norman D. Briggs