The Philippine Department of Justice is setting up a “cyber police” team to thwart online crime.
The team will operate under a so-called ‘ethical framework’ to allay concerns that privacy and other civil liberties could be affected.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said: “Our response is to build a team of cybercrime professionals equipped with the requisite expertise, backed up by adequate resources and operating under an ethical framework to ensure that we can deliver justice.”
She assured those in attendance that the government “will be equally vigilant in the protection of civil liberties be it on the streets, in justice processes, in the courts and on the web”.
“This is one way where the citizen’s trust and confidence can be nurtured and grown,” she added.
De Lima added that the Philippines had a bit of a shortcoming when trying to capture criminals via the internet. The cybercrime prevention bill was passed decades ago when the internet first came to the Philippines, yet only now is a dedicated team being created.
“Cybercrime offenders have had about two decades of head start, giving them the valuable time to hone their malicious craft. It’s about time that we in the government take that step to finally tackle them head-on,” De Lima said.
Just last year, the Philippine National Police (PNP) recorded 614 cyber-related crimes. Of them 22 per cent were scam related offences, 16 per cent were libel cases, 11 per cent were voyeurism related and nine per cent involved identity theft.
Many cyber-related crimes are in fact fueds between family members, girlfriend-boyfriend issues and neighbourhood quarrels that involve slander and similar issues.
With limited resources to catch criminals, the DOJ is asking that family issues be left out of their reports.
The DOJ says the team is being created to smash large syndicates who use the internet to prey on minors and women.
The DOJ also hopes to crack many cases involving victims who are tricked into sending money over the internet and either being scammed or receiving no products.
The DOJ also said that it would maintain a position on ‘cyber libel’ even though they believe it should have never been included in Republic Act 10175.