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Philippine Department of Justice and Banker’s Group Ink MoU to Fight Cybercrime  

The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP) recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to strengthen measures against online fraud. According to the DOJ Secretary, Menardo Guevarra, the MoU will help the private sector and the government achieve its common goal of establishing a collective, coordinated, and strategic cyber response through information-sharing, learning, training, and fostering cybersecurity awareness. The agreement is seen as crucial in this period of “heightened cyber criminality,” BAP said in a recent statement.

Under the partnership, the association will collaborate with the DoJ to produce public awareness campaigns, events, and activities, including free learning sessions, to disseminate information on the newest cybersecurity trends and developments. As per a press release, the MoU was signed during the virtual event with the BAP president. Guevarra explained that the MoU will establish a solid framework and promote an effective and efficient partnership to minimise, if not totally prevent, cybercrime and cyber-related offenses nationwide.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a surge in Internet use as Filipinos stayed mostly at home for work, studies, and other transactions. The DOJ chief said that reporting and investigating cyber incidents have become more challenging due to various pandemic-related restrictions, like limited face-to-face transactions. The DOJ believes the MoU will help strengthen the banking industry’s resilience and the government’s capability to protect the public against cyber-attacks.

The BAP Cybersecurity Committee earlier reported that banking fraud damage during the pandemic reached PHP1 billion (US$19.5 million) as of 2021, in terms of unauthorised withdrawals and illegal transfers. Under the MoU, BAP and the DOJ plan to stay ahead with the latest developments in cybersecurity, ensuring the protection of the banking industry and the public from fraudulent activities. The BAP President, Jose Arnulfo Veloso, stated that the two organisations will continue to work together to boost the cybersecurity awareness campaign to educate and prevent the public from falling prey to scams and online fraud.

A representative from the country’s central bank, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, noted that the partnership will foster healthy dialogue between DoJ and BAP on matters related to cybersecurity, knowledge sharing, and greater cooperation for the benefit of financial consumers. The BSP affirmed its full support and commitment in moving this initiative forward.

Last November, BAP launched its Anti-Scam Campaign, a multi-partner information campaign aimed at promoting cybersecurity, cyber-safety, and awareness among Filipino banking customers. As OpenGov Asia had reported, the launch coincided with the International Fraud Awareness Week, which emphasised the importance of cybersecurity and cyber education across the globe. In its efforts to raise cybersecurity awareness in the Philippines, BAP had collaborated with a variety of stakeholders, including social media influencers, government organisations, and the media. In fact, BAP signed an MoU with a broadcast media organisation to help disseminate information on cybersecurity and data protection. It aimed to keep the public informed and educated on the latest trends and scenarios on cybercrime, considering the increasing sophistication and number of cyber-threats.

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