Those involved in investment scams can be held liable for economic sabotage once the proposed measure to expand its coverage is enacted into law.
Returning Senator Lito Lapid filed Senate Bill No. 53 to amend Marcos-era Presidential Decree 1689, which increased the penalty in some forms of swindling or estafa that constitute economic sabotage.
In filing the bill, Lapid said he wanted to fix the “loophole” that economic sabotage might only be committed by a group of at least five people.
With this measure, Lapid said he was sure all fraudsters, as an individual or a syndicate, would be held accountable and rot in jail.
He said his proposed amendment of the law would ensure punishment for those who exploit individuals who “only want to earn a little.”
“We must ensure that these abuses on our people who wanted to earn for a living would be stopped,” also said Lapid.
“It’s important that we put a stop to exploitation of our countrymen who want to earn a little,” he added.
The senator cited recent events that “revealed the cracks” in existing policies, and referred to a “religious organization” that supposedly lured investors through a Ponzi scheme.
The Securities and Exchange Commission earlier called Kapa Community Ministry International’s donation scheme an outright scam, saying it was mathematically impossible for anyone to give a one-time “donation” and then receive 30 percent of the amount for life. Macon Ramos-Araneta
Lapid proposed to amend PD 1689 to include the following persons who “defraud or misappropriate money” contributed by individuals or corporations: the individual accused, family members or relatives by affinity or consanguinity who connive with the accused, and business associates or subordinates who connive with the accused.
PD 1689 specifically defined estafa as punishable by life imprisonment to death if carried out by at least five people. If not done by a syndicate, the penalty imposable is up to life imprisonment if the amount of fraud exceeds P100,000.
Death penalty in the Philippines was abolished in 2006.