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Surge in Cybercrimes: 49 Daily Incidents Reported in Q1 2024

The Philippines has experienced a significant surge in cybercrimes, with an average of 49 incidents reported daily in the first quarter of 2024, up from 40 per day in the previous year. This alarming trend has raised concerns among authorities and the public alike.

According to ACG chief Maj. Gen. Sidney Hernia, online selling scams are the most prevalent type of cybercrime, with 990 cases reported. This is followed by 319 incidents of investment scams and 309 instances of debit/credit card fraud. The increase in cybercrime is attributed to the rise in online activities, the sophisticated tactics employed by cybercriminals, and a lack of public awareness.

In February, the ACG reported a 68.98 percent increase in cybercrimes, from 11,523 cases in 2022 to 19,472 incidents in 2023. Online scams saw a 94.64 percent surge, rising from 7,208 incidents in 2022 to 14,030 cases in 2023. Sexual extortion also experienced an uptick, with 121 incidents reported in 2023, up from 110 cases the previous year.

Despite the enactment of Republic Act No. 11934 or the SIM Card Registration Act in October 2022, cybercrimes continue to rise. The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) admitted that the law is not a “silver bullet” against messaging scams, though it has pledged to tighten enforcement.

Senate President Francis Escudero and Sen. Grace Poe have criticized the NTC’s implementation of the law. Meanwhile, Gilbert Cruz, undersecretary of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC), highlighted the severity of the issue, stating that online scams are now worse than the country’s drug problem.

In response to the escalating cybercrime wave, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to take action. The PNP has established cybersecurity desks in all police stations and increased investigator training. PNP chief Gen. Rommel Marbil announced an intensified drive against cybercrimes, with more resources allocated to combat the growing threat.

Despite these measures, public awareness remains the most effective defense against cybercrimes. Gen. Marbil encourages the public to report cybercrimes to the police and stay vigilant against online threats.