Poe calls for cybercrime crackdown after SIM card listup
MANILA, Philippines — The government must now show its mettle in cracking down on cybercrime as the registration of subscriber information modules (SIM) cards nears completion, Sen. Grace Poe said on Wednesday.
At a press forum, Poe, chair of the Senate Committee on Public Services, said she was not impressed by the Philippine National Police report that cybercrimes increased despite the ongoing registration of SIM cards.
The PNP reported on Tuesday that cybercrimes increased by 190 percent from January to June, or a total of 4,104 cases from 1,415 in the same period in 2022.
“While it is true that we already have the law, it is never an assurance that these crimes of this type will stop. The government must show as a sample of how the law will pounce on violators and mete out punishment,” she said.
Moreover, Poe pointed out that the PNP data took off from a time when there were neither mechanisms nor reliable data to monitor cybercrime incidents.
“From zero, it may have jumped to maybe 3,000 because this time, [the PNP] already has guidelines on how to properly monitor these crimes, including the authority to go after the sale of SIM cards,” she said.
Most of this year’s cases were categorized as financial crimes and online scams involving digital and online wallets such as GCash (with 3,587 cases), Maya (49 cases), and Coins.ph (4 cases), according to the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG).
But Poe said that the crime rate may have gone higher only because the PNP now has a better tracking system.
The senator noted a decrease in the number of text scams she herself receives after the passage of the SIM card registration law that she principally authored.
The data may seem to post an increase because the PNP did not have an organized monitoring and record-keeping system on SIM-card-related crimes, Poe said.
Punishment for violators
Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva agreed with Poe about the need for law enforcement to show how the law will exact punishment for violators.“It is not enough that scammers will be caught. They should suffer the punishment set by the law,” he said.
According to Villanueva, the real impact of SIM card registration can be better assessed after the period for SIM card registration lapses on July 25.
He cited data from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) that a total of 102.54 million out of a total of 168 million SIM cards have so far been registered, comprising about 61.03 percent.
“After the registration deadline, we will monitor how the automatic deactivation of nonregistered SIMs can help address and contribute to reducing, if not eliminating, scams and other cybercrimes,” he said.
He called on the NTC, the PNP, other relevant agencies, and the private sector to ramp up information campaigns against the use of various means to trick citizens into scams.