Philippine Senator Seeks Harsher Penalties for Crypto-Related Crimes

A Philippine legislator is pushing for stiffer penalties for crimes involving cryptocurrencies.

Philippine senator Leila de Lima is calling for the tougher punishment of crimes involving cryptocurrencies, including "estafa where unscrupulous individuals entice unsuspecting people to purchase fake Bitcoins, sending a virtual currency as payment for child pornography, or a public officer agreeing to perform an act in consideration of payment in Bitcoins (direct bribery)."

The senator, who served as justice secretary in the previous administration, called on her colleagues to immediately pass her bill to help the country fight cybercrimes. The most recent local example was the $17.32 million Ponzi scheme involving Bitcoins that resulted in the arrest of husband-and-wife tandem Arnel and Leonady Ordonio early this month.

De Lima said in a statement:

"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. Knowing that virtual currency resembles money and that the possibilities in using it are endless, a higher penalty for its use on illegal activities is necessary."

Her proposed legislation calls for a penalty one degree higher if crimes listed in the Republic Act No. 3815 or the Revised Penal Code (RPC) are committed using digital currencies.

According to the senator, the Philippine criminal justice system must evolve and adapt to the changing technologies that could be used in unlawful activities.

"As I've mentioned before, our penal laws must adapt to the changing times and our criminal justice system must come prepared in the event like this," she said.

Cloud mining contractors threatened by lengthy prison sentences

Also last month, the Philippines’ Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) warned cloud-based digital currency mining operators that they could face up to 21 years of imprisonment for engaging in such activity.

The SEC stated in a public bulletin:

“The Commission has detected that certain individuals or groups of persons are enticing the public, through a popular social media platform or in their own independent websites, to invest in so-called cloud mining contracts.”