On Tuesday, March 13 the Philippine Senate has announced that Senator Leila de Lima has introduced a bill which demands stricter penalties for crypto-related crimes given the complex nature of investigating procedure. In the Senate Bill number 1694, Senator De Lima has proposed that the penalty involving “virtual currency” would incur a penalty of a higher degree than the usual penalties prescribed in the Revised Penal Code (RPC).
“Due to its anonymous or pseudonymous character, law enforcement agencies may encounter difficulty in tracing the user or owner of a virtual currency used in the commission of crimes, thereby necessitating a higher penalty for its use.”, said Senator De Lima.
The Lawmaker further suggested that the virtual currencies used in the illicit activities should be seized unless they belonged to an innocent party. According to her, these new measures will help the government’s justice system to adapt to the new age crimes involving cryptocurrencies. These crimes include but are not limited to money laundering, terror financing, cryptocurrency corruption and using virtual currency to purchase illegal products.
This bill stresses the need for a crypto regulatory body to draft a set of rules pertaining cryptocurrencies. Senator De Lima also mentioned that since virtual currencies have become a medium of exchange, the possibilities of misuse are endless.
The Philippine central bank, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BPS) has recognized Bitcoin as a legal mode of payment. But according to them, this is neither an official endorsement by the Government of Philippines nor a conferment of legal tender status to BTC. The central bank currently defines cryptocurrencies as “any type of digital unit that is used as a medium of exchange or a form of digitally stored value created by agreement within the community of virtual currency users..”
In November 2017, the Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission has announced their willingness to consider crypto-assets as securities.
This current bill endorses the fact that while the cryptocurrencies are taking over as future of the current financial systems, there is a need for strict regulations in place.