If ordinary employees guard their hard-earned money against pickpockets, banks should also make sure that cybercriminals don’t pick the digital wallets of those who gave them their pay for safekeeping, Senator Joel Villanueva said.

“Payroll money entrusted by both employers and their workers should be kept safe at all times,” the chair of the Senate labor committee said.

This as Villanueva called on government authorities to treat the security breach in one bank “as if it were a cyber attack on our country of the grave kind”.

“The national reputation is at stake.”

“This goes beyond one company. The national reputation is at stake. The Philippines cannot be seen as having a porous banking system because such weakness will only entice cyber criminals to attack us,” the veteran legislator stressed.

“We cannot be seen as a prime destination of cybercrime, a haven for hackers.”

The seasoned lawmaker said a swift solution is needed “because we cannot be seen as a prime destination of cybercrime, a haven for hackers”.

“Solving this crime early – perpetrators identified, and the modus explained – should signal to our people the comforting assurance that their hard-earned money is safe with banks,” the senator said.

He urged the government to convene an inter-agency task force “that will immediately get to the bottom of this and institute measures that will prevent it from happening again”.

Any delay, Villanueva said, will corrode the public’s faith in our banking system, “a relationship based on trust”.

He said the Department of Information and Communications Technology, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the National Privacy Commission, the National Bureau of Investigation, among others, can be among the agencies in the task force.

Villanueva welcomed the statement by the concerned bank that the interest of victims will be protected as “most reassuring and is the correct thing to do”.


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