April 14, 2024

Police stations across the country will soon have cybersecurity desks that would handle cybercrimes, the Philippine National Police said.

PNP Spokesperson, Col. Jean Fajardo, said this is in compliance with President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s directive to boost a crackdown on cybercrimes, which are on the rise in this age of digital technology.

“However, not all of our police investigators assigned in station level are trained to respond to any cyber-related crimes so for now, training are being conducted by our Regional Anti-Cybercrime Units,” she said.

“We are talking about local trainings. These are different from the ones given by the Department of Information and Communications Technology and our foreign counterparts. We also have those given by our investigators assigned to the Anti Cybercrime Group. We need to capacitate first our investigators and of course, we need to upgrade our information and communications technology personnel to make sure that they are responsive on the latest cyber-related crimes that were recorded from the police station, provincial up to the regional level,” she added.

Based on the PNP’s latest data, online scam cases topped the list of cybercrimes logged in 2023 at 14,030, followed by identity theft at 2,804 and cyberlibel at 1,182.

Other cybercrimes logged in the past year include online threats (552); data interference (412), computer-related fraud (171), love scams (168), sextortion (121), and online violence against women and children (32).

Meanwhile, Col. Jay Guillermo, chief of the Cyber Response Unit of the PNP-ACG, said cybercrime syndicates have been taking advantage of strict security rules of condominium buildings and gated subdivisions to cover up their illegal activities.

Guillermo said this is one of the difficulties they are facing in running after cybercrime syndicates operating in the country, including those engaged in love scams.

“We found out that part of the love scam was the setting up of a call center-like office. They are renting in big condominiums and subdivisions where policemen could not easily enter. While we are conducting the investigation, our fear is that by the time we are able to comply with the requirements for the conduct investigation inside, our targets are already gone,” he added.

Guillermo said there is no specific law that may be used to run after the owners of condominium units and houses in subdivisions that were used for illegal activities. He said the enactment of a law that would hold owners accountable if their properties were found used in illegal activities would boost the government’s law enforcement capability. – PNA