De Lima seeks to redefine syndicated estafa

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Sen. Leila M. de Lima has filed a measure lowering the number of persons involved for the crime of syndicated estafa or other forms of swindling to be punishable by life imprisonment.

De Lima, who chairs the Senate justice committee, filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 959 seeking to amend Section 1 of the 36-year-old Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1689 which reduces from five to two persons involved to qualify for syndicated estafa. “Syndicated estafa is a social menace that preys on our countrymen. It has eroded the faith of many Filipinos in the economic system of the country. While many operate alone, there are quite a number who operate in groups,” she said.

Under Section 1 of PD 1689, syndicated estafa and other forms of swindling shall be punishable by life imprisonment to death if it is committed by a syndicate consisting of five or more persons.

When not committed by a syndicate of five or more, the penalty imposable shall be reclusion temporal to reclusion perpetua if the amount of the fraud exceeds 100,000 pesos.

De Lima’s measure, however, seeks to reduce the minimum number from five to two people involved to qualify as crime of syndicated estafa.

The former justice secretary said she believes that the revision of syndicated estafa is necessary to plug one of the existing loopholes in the present law.

“Some groups, no matter how small, think they can get away with the hard earned money of other people. Couples can be perpetrators. They think they can amass millions with this loophole. This is the reason why it is necessary to tighten this provision in the definition of the crime,” she said.

“Wala na dapat manlalamang sa kapwa. Pinaghirapan nila ang perang iyan. Either they help them invest the money or do not even think about collecting money from them,” she added.

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