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Para managot ang manloloko: De Lima wants penalties for ‘bitcoin’ scammers

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Detained Senator Leila de Lima has sought the swift passage of her proposed bill imposing stiffer penalties for crimes involving cryptocurrencies to prevent a repeat of the recent P900-million pyramiding scam disguised as a “bitcoin” investment.

The opposition senator on Monday urged fellow senators to prioritize the passage of Senate Bill No. 1694 to achieve her goal.

“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,” De Lima said.

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

She added, “As legislators, we should not allow these kinds of crimes to go unnoticed and let the perpetrators easily get away with their evil schemes while fooling more people.”

On April 4, suspected con artist and operator of New G Bitcoin Investment Trading Arnel Ordonio and with his wife Leonady were arrested in an entrapment operation in Ilocos Sur by the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG).

The suspects allegedly promoted NewG through social media and lured people to invest in their online business—which trades in Bitcoin—with a promise of a 30 percent return on investments with payouts every 15 days.

The couple reportedly lured more than 100 people to invest money into their investment scam, amassing up to nine million pesos.

De Lima reiterated that the criminal justice system must always be prepared in case virtual currency—like bitcoins—would be used in unlawful activities anew.

“As I’ve mentioned before, our penal laws must adapt with the changing times and our criminal justice system must come prepared in the event like this,” she said.

De Lima is detained at the Phil. National Police Custodial Center on drug charges.