Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima underscored the need to investigate the continued operation of illegal online gambling activities in the country and hold the perpetrators accountable to the full extent of the law.
De Lima filed a Proposed Senate Resolution urging the Congress to investigate the reported raid conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) at Fort Ilocandia Hotel and Resort last Dec. 20, 2021 for violation of the provisions of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.
“There is an urgent need to address the continued proliferation of illegal gambling activities in the country and expeditiously implement measures to safeguard and put an end in making the country a hub of illegal online activities that breach our existing laws,” she said.
Reportedly, at the time of the raid, the NBI was implementing a cyber warrant for violation of Section 4(b)(2) of the Cybercrime Law, or computer-related fraud, which De Lima said, “very dubiously yielded no arrest despite a large number of gadgets used for illegal activities having been seized.”
Local police disclosed that they were able to confiscate 35 desktop computer units, 20 cellular phones, several SIM cards, two routers, and nine company identification cards.
According to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, “many Chinese-looking persons were found in the premises” of the Fort Ilocandia hotel during the raid. The target, Guevarra said, was a certain Yves L alias Weng, but added it’s not clear in the report submitted to him if he was in the premises.
Noting that it was not the first raid related to cybercrime activities in Fort Ilocandia, De Lima said it is important to determine whether the previous seizure of materials related to illegal activities, which even precipitated the closure of the premises, led to arrests and prosecution.
“How the hotel was able to reopen and operate again is suspect at best, especially when juxtaposed with this most recent raid which apparently yielded no arrest,” she said.
“It is necessary to determine whether there are gaps in the law that are being taken advantage of by perpetrators that allow them to circumvent our existing laws,” she added.
It may be recalled that, on Dec. 9, 2016, the combined forces of the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) Ilocos Norte, Anti-Cybercrime Group, Bureau of Immigration, and Justice Department raided the same building owned by Jack Lam.
During the said raid, a number of access devices, bank cards, flash drives, cellphones, photos and identification cards allegedly owned by Chinese individuals suspected to be used in cybercrime or fraudulent activities were also seized. (30)