SENATOR Sherwin T. Gatchalian wants to restore the budget cut imposed on the National Bureau of Investigation’s (NBI) proposed 2023 funding, noting the need to support the government’s cybercrime prevention operations.
The agency’s proposed budget under the National Expenditure Program (NEP) for 2023 was trimmed to P1.8 billion from the current P2.3 billion.
The reduction includes the anti-cybercrime enforcement unit’s allocation, which was decreased to P21.2 million from P26.4 million.
“Cybercrimes are flourishing in many territories including the Philippines. I would like to see that the NBI is fully equipped and has the necessary resources, especially in its fight against cybercrimes,” he said in a statement on Monday.
The senator said a decrease in funds could adversely affect the agency’s anti-cybercrime operations at a time when illegal activities are prevalent, citing identity theft, credit card fraud, and spam and phishing messages.
At least 25 business groups in the Philippines last year said the impact of cybercrime could hit up to $10.5 trillion annually by 2025, as the use of online platforms for financial transactions continues to grow.
In 2021, the Bankers Association of the Philippines said unauthorized withdrawals and transfers reached more than P1 billion for that year, amid a rise in cybercrime along with the rise in digital transactions due to the pandemic.
A higher budget for the NBI is also necessary as Congress seeks to pass the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Card Registration Act.
Under the bill, telecommunication companies are tasked with the safekeeping of information gathered during the registration process. No data may be divulged except in compliance with laws, upon a court order or with the written consent of the subscriber.
Any breach of confidentiality will be punishable with imprisonment or a fine of as much as P1 million.
The passage of the proposed measure will enable the NBI to effectively implement its anti-cybercrime campaign, Mr. Gatchalian said, leading to a substantial reduction in cybercrime cases in the country which will enhance digital revolution and support economic recovery.
“We will do our best to reinstate the amount that was cut in the budget proposal,” he said. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan