SENATOR Leila de Lima has sought a law lowering the number of persons that must be involved to constitute the crime of syndicated estafa from “five to two” to easily prosecute individuals linked to swindling.
She filed Senate Bill No. 959 amending the 36-year-old Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1689.
De Lima, who chairs the Senate Committee on Justice, said that “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 should 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 should be reclusion temporal to reclusion perpetua if the amount of the fraud exceeds P100,000.
SBN 959, however, seeks to reduce the minimum number from five to two people involved to qualify as crime of syndicated estafa.
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,” said De Lima.
“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.
She added:”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.”