Press Release
February 21, 2024

Co-sponsorship Speech of Sen. Grace Poe
on the Anti-Financial Account Scamming Act (AFASA) - SBN 2560

Mr. President, dear colleagues, it is my privilege to co-sponsor this measure borne of necessity. The pandemic pushed us to rely on online financial transactions heavily. With a spike in digital transactions came a spike in fraud as well.

Sinimulan na natin ang pagpapa-igting ng seguridad ng mga digital transactions sa SIM Registration Act. Pero hindi sapat na hinigpitan natin ang paggamit ng mga SIM cards. Ngayon naman, hihigpitan natin ang seguridad ng ating mga financial accounts tulad ng GCash, Maya, online banks, pati mga e-wallets ng mga pinakagamit na apps tulad ng Shopee, Lazada at Grab.

They say that there are only two certain things in life: death and taxes. Ngayon, mukhang kinakailangan na nito ng amendment: death, taxes, and scams.

These fraudulent schemes and rackets have become the bane of our financial consumers. Nitong mga nakaraang linggo lang, we heard the news of at least 120 e-wallet account holders losing their hard-earned money in an instant--apparently because of a phishing scam as reported by Bangko Sentral.

We also heard of a news report years ago when some teachers were scammed into giving away their financial details--eventually losing as much as P26K to P121K from their bank accounts.

These stories and other countless reports of scams, shams, and other deceits only cement our status as a scamming hotbed in Asia. In 2022, we ranked 5th among Southeast Asian countries in terms of phishing attacks and incidents.

In the same year, we lost a staggering P623 million to fraud; P623 million to phishing; and P409 million to identity theft.

At mas malala pa ito as cybersecurity experts believe that these incidents will only get worse in 2024 and beyond.

As principal author of this measure, and as the sponsor and co-author of the Financial Products and Services Consumer Protection Act last Congress, this bill is part of our ongoing campaign against these scams, shams, and frauds.

I first filed this bill in 2021 when E-Money accounts rose to an astonishing 16.8 million, as the pandemic prompted many to make the necessary transition online. But these schemes chip away the trust in our financial system--threatening to undo years of progress in financial inclusion and digital innovation.

And while financial education and literacy is still key in preventing these schemes, kinakailangan natin ng mas kongkretong aksyon para habulin at parusahan itong mga manloloko at masasamang loob.

I would like to thank the sponsor of this bill, Sen. Villar, for pushing forward for his measure.

Mr. President, fellow senators, it is thus with urgency that I co-sponsor Senate Bill No. 2560, under Committee Report No. 204. And I earnestly ask my colleagues for the swift passage of this much-needed measure.

Maraming salamat po.

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