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PBBM raises alarm against digital scams

SAFE DIGITAL ENVIRONMENT. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Emilio Aquino lead the 85th anniversary of SEC on Thursday, June 22, 2023. Mr. Marcos underscored the need for SEC to further develop its digitization efforts, to improve the country’s brand as an investment haven.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Thursday warned the people against the threat and risks posed by artificial intelligence (AI) as the government continues to monitor transactions in the digital space to protect the public against scammers and abusive online lenders.

“We continue to monitor very closely and do all that we can (to prevent scams),” President Marcos said after attending the 85th Anniversary of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) at the SEC Headquarters in Makati City.

“The SIM card registration (law) I think was a big step, and I think we are getting to the point where we have disposed of or taken out of the system many of the SIM cards that have not been registered because they have been used for illegal purposes,” he added.

Mr. Marcos also urged the SEC to help his administration promote the Philippines as a “safe and proactive” investment hub.

In his keynote speech, the President vouched for SEC’s competence, saying it has become “a reliable regulator of corporate and capital markets and a staunch protector of our people and their investments.”

“I know that I can count on each of you to help promote our country as an investment destination—one that is safe, that is orderly and proactive; and one that can uphold the rights and welfare of our investors and consumers to their mutual benefits,” he said.

Marcos also called on SEC to help the business sector and transform it as an “agent of social and economic transformation.”

He expressed optimism that more local businesses will reach even greater heights for a “more robust and equitable” economy.

Everybody, the President said, must be “very, very watchful and careful” and be aware of the new technologies being introduced, to prevent them from being duped by scammers.

Mr. Marcos advised the public that when they get a message and a deal is being presented and it sounds too good to be true, they should proceed with caution.

“There is no such thing as 100 percent risk-free. There is no way to guarantee these enormous returns on what they are claiming, on the money that you put, that you give them,” he said.

“If the public is aware and knows and is able to spot (a scam) because of the way that these scams are presented, then that is the best defense that we have.”

Asked by reporters about punishing scammers involved in such schemes, the President said anyone found guilty of promoting such scams will be dealt with using the full force of the law.

But the big challenge, he said, is finding these people who do not usually maintain identifiable offices or establishments while they operate.

“These are people sitting in somebody’s basement with a computer, which they can just shut down, sell away, buy a new one, and keep going. So, that’s the trouble we are finding now,” Mr. Marcos pointed out.

“The best that we can do, there are certain instances, especially when they’re very large-scale that we can find exactly where it’s coming from. But again, it’s very movable — these are not offices, corporate offices in a big building.”

On the SEC, the President said that through its existence, the agency “has helped create an environment that benefits the business and investment sectors.”

“As we are now deep in our efforts to fully transform our economy, it is my hope that your role in our collective growth remains clear so that businesses will not only thrive but will also become agents of our economic and social transformation,” he said. (See full story online at manilastandard.net)

Mr. Marcos also lauded SEC personnel for their commitment to improving the services offered by the country’s company registrar, and called on the agency to continue its digitalization initiatives in pursuit of “sustainable finance and good corporate governance.”

This, as the commission introduced its new digital services, which include the Electronic SEC Universal Registration Environment (eSECURE); the Electronic SEC Education, Analysis, and Research Computing Hub (eSEARCH); SEC API Marketplace, Electronic Registry Application for Market Participants (eRAMP), and the SEC Check App 2.0.

Mr. Marcos said the programs will enable SEC to be a “reliable partner” in efforts to digitalize government procedures and services.

“Your openness to achieving digital transformation has likewise been integral to fostering business formation and growth,” he said, stressing that the innovations pursued by the commission employ a “more modern, more efficient, and more secure approach in managing stakeholders and their data.”

“Through the digital reforms that you have put in place, you have made it easier for corporations to comply with the requirements and maintain a good standing in the business community,” Marcos added.

The SEC acts as the Philippines’ corporate registrar by virtue of Commonwealth Act 287 enacted on June 3, 1938. It is mandated to perform all functions relative to the registration of corporations and associations.

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