BSP supports immediate passage of AFASA bill

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) hopes for the enactment of the proposed Anti-Financial Account Scamming Act or AFASA bill, which will allow it to examine financial accounts involved in prohibited acts.

Elmore Capule, BSP senior assistant governor and general counsel of the office of the general counsel and legal services, said in a recent media information session Senator Mark Villar has expressed optimism may be passed in May this year.

The AFASA bill seeks to prohibit and punish financial crimes such as acting as money mule, performing social engineering schemes and committing economic sabotage.

The bill also seeks to authorize the BSP to investigate cases involving violation of the proposed law, apply for cybercrime warrants and orders, and request the assistance of the cybercrime units of the National Bureau of Investigation and the PNP in the investigation of cases involving violations of the proposed law and in the enforcement and implementation of cybercrime warrants and related orders.

The proposed bill also includes a limited authority of BSP to examine and investigate financial accounts, e-wallets and other financial accounts that are involved in the prohibited acts, and shall be exempt from the existing bank secrecy laws as well as data privacy laws to gather sufficient information for the inquiry.

“If bill if it becomes a law, phishing, account takeovers, and money mules, will be criminalized,” Capule said, pointing out that based on BSP data, the top three nature of cyber incidents in 2022 include fraud (5,211 incidents), phishing and its variations (6,295 incidents), and account takeover or identity theft (3,104 incidents).

The amount involved was PHP623 million for fraud, PHP623 million for phishing, and PHP409 million for account takeover or identity theft. The Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) earlier approved the AFASA bill as one of the 20 priority legislations of the Marcos administration.

“It already passed the lower house. It’s now in the Senate. As a matter of fact, last week we had another committee hearing in the Senate. And it’s favorable. Even the industry is supporting it. So according to Senator Mark Villar, his committee will fast-track” work on the measure, Capule said. (With PNA)