Banks laud bill on ATM hacking

By Lawrence Agcaoili

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The Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP) yesterday commended the unanimous act of the House of Representatives to pass House Bill 6710 or “An Act Amending R.A. 8484 Otherwise Known as the Access Devices Regulation Act of 1998” on third and final reading without a single objection. Philstar.com/File Photo

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine banks hailed the passage of a bill classifying the hacking of a bank’s computer system and automated teller machine (ATM) cards as economic sabotage punishable by life imprisonment.

The Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP) yesterday commended the unanimous act of the House of Representatives to pass House Bill 6710 or “An Act Amending R.A. 8484 Otherwise Known as the Access Devices Regulation Act of 1998” on third and final reading without a single objection.

The Lower House, through Rep. Ben Evardone, chairman of the committee on banks and financial intermediaries, recognized the gravity and the profound economic impact of financial fraud and crimes committed through the use of electronic devices and technical gadgets.

In addition to the direct loss from financial and trade transactions, the rising number of complaints of system breach erodes public trusts on finance and banking institutions, the BAP said.

Declaring the commission of such crimes as heinous and a form of economic sabotage and raising the punishment to the maximum allowable by law are expected to deter criminals from further committing such acts, it said.

“This bold move will help in ensuring the safety, security and stability of the Philippine financial system. The stiffer penalties are preventive measures against foreign crime syndicates who simply post bail if caught, then immediately leave the country limiting the reach of our local law enforcement agencies,” the BAP said.

Last Monday, the lower house approved on third and final reading a bill classifying the hacking of a bank’s computer system and of ATM cards as economic sabotage punishable by life imprisonment.

Citing data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Evardone said losses from ATM fraud “have surged alarmingly from P175 million in 2012 to more than P600 million in 2016 – a 250 percent increase in just four years.”

He said aside from protecting bank depositors and ATM and credit cardholders, the bill would “increase security for OFW remittances totaling $33 billion each year, as well as the growing e-commerce/online shopping sector which accounted for P60 billion in revenues last year.”

He added there are 76 million debit and prepaid cards currently in circulation, in addition to 8.5 million credit cards.

“The road ahead is long as this bill will still require the ratification of the Senate and finally the bicameral conference committee which we hope can be successfully concluded. In the implementation of the law, a concerted effort of all law enforcement agencies, financial regulatory agencies, affected stakeholders and the community at large, is necessary,” the BAP said.

Aside from life imprisonment, the offenses would be fined an amount ranging from P1 million to P5 million.

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