Department of Justice (File photo)

MANILA – Measures against online fraud will be strengthened following the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP) on Friday.

The MOU will help the private sector and the government achieve its "common goal of establishing a collective, coordinated, and strategic cyber response through information-sharing, learning, training, and fostering cybersecurity awareness," DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra said during the virtual signing with BAP president Jose Arnulfo Veloso.

"The MOU between the Department and the BAP that we concluded today (Friday) will establish a solid framework and promote a genuine atmosphere of collaboration and alliance through an effective and efficient partnership meant to at least minimize, if not totally prevent, cybercrime and cyber-related offenses nationwide," Guevara said.

The Covid-19 pandemic caused a surge in Internet use as Filipinos stayed mostly at home for work, studies, and other transactions.

The DOJ chief noted that reporting and investigating cyber incidents have become more challenging due to various pandemic-related restrictions, like limited face-to-face transactions.

“The most effective deterrent against cybercrimes is a no-holds barred enforcement and prosecution that will put these cybercriminals in jail for good. The BAP and DOJ are unified in this mission,” Veloso said.

The BAP Cybersecurity Committee earlier reported that banking fraud damage during the pandemic reached PHP1 billion as of 2021, in terms of unauthorized withdrawals and illegal transfers.

Under the MOU, the BAP and DOJ will be kept abreast of the latest developments in cybersecurity to better protect the banking industry and the general public from fraudulent activities.

“We will continue to work together with the DOJ to keep ourselves abreast on the latest news and developments in cybersecurity and take strong action against cybercriminals. The urgent need for effective enforcement and prosecution is what convinced us in the BAP to partner with the DOJ. Similarly, we vow to boost our cybersecurity awareness campaign to educate and prevent the public from falling prey to scams and online fraud,” Veloso said. (PNA)