Philippines Lawmaker Urges Senate To Prioritize Crypto Bill

Crime, News, Regulation | April 17, 2018 By:

Leila M. De Lima, an opposition senator in the Philippines, has urged her fellow senators to push for the swift passage of her bill that seeks to impose stiffer penalties for crimes involving cryptocurrencies.

Senate Bill (SB) No. 1694, which was filed in March, proposes to raise penalties for crypto crimes to one degree higher than what is provided for by the Revised Penal Code. The proposed law would also adjust penalties according to the value of the cryptocurrency involved in a transgression, which would be determined based on a token’s exchange rate with the Philippine peso at the time that the criminal act took place.

The senator’s call to speed up the passing of the bill was prompted by a recent pyramiding scam disguised as a bitcoin investment. On April 4, the Philippine National Police (PNP) arrested a couple who allegedly amassed wealth worth nearly P1 billion ($19M USD) through bitcoin.

The PNP alleged that Arnel and Leonady Ordonio lured more than 100 people to invest in their business, promising investors easy money while riding on the popularity of bitcoin. Under the scheme, investors were promised at least 30 percent profit in about half a month for a minimum bankrolled capital of P90 thousand ($1,700 USD). Some of the investments went as a high as P29 million ($556,000 USD).

De Lima, a former justice secretary, said she hopes the legislative chamber will give priority to the crypto bill to prevent a repeat of the recent crypto scam.

“I hope that this occurrence will push my esteemed colleagues in the Senate to take my proposed bill seriously and help pass it into law soon,” De Lima said. “Knowing that virtual currency resembles money, and that the possibilities in using it are endless, higher penalty for its use on illegal activities is necessary. As legislators, we should not allow these kinds of crimes to go unnoticed and let the perpetrators easily get away with their evil schemes while fooling more people.”

The senator also said that the criminal justice system must always be prepared in case cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are used in unlawful activities anew.

“As I’ve mentioned before, our penal laws must adapt with the changing times and our criminal justice system must come prepared in an event like this,” she said.

De Lima, who is currently under pre-trial detention for being linked to the drug trade during her stint as justice secretary, reminded the public to be vigilant of the use of cryptocurrencies and avoid investments that are “too good to be true.”