As per a press release from the Philippine Senate published on Tuesday, March 13, Philippine Senator Leila de Lima has filed a bill to impose stricter penalties for cryptocurrency-related crimes, due to the complexity of the investigation process.
De Lima further suggested a seizure of cryptocurrency used in illegal activity, unless it came from a guiltless party. Also as per the Senate Bill (SB) No. 1694, all crimes described by the Revised Penal Code (RPC) would incur a penalty one degree higher than usual if the crime involved the use of “virtual currency”.
De Lima also stated that, “A higher penalty is necessary because of the anonymous or pseudonymous character of these currencies which result in increased difficulty in tracing the user or owner of a virtual currency used in the commission of crimes by federal agencies.”
In order to combat more frequent cases of illegal activity involving cryptocurrency, De Lima hopes that the measures aim to adapt the government’s criminal justice system to what they see as a new type of crime. Among the blacklisted activities, De Lima includes fake Bitcoin selling, cryptocurrency corruption, using virtual currency funds as payment for illegal products, money laundering, and terrorist financing.
The Senator also asserted that, “Since virtual currency resembles money, the possibilities are endless.”
Currently the Philippine central bank, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), defines cryptocurrency 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,” according to the senate’s post.
In February 2017, BSP recognized Bitcoin (BTC) as a legal payment method, stressing that the decision does not constitute an official endorsement by the Philippine government or status as legal tender, as Bitcoin is not issued by the central bank. Later in November 2017, the Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced its plans to consider cryptocurrencies as securities.