TOP > News > New Bill in the Philippines Filed to Penalize the Use of Cryptocurrency to Commit Crimes
July 31, 2018 Updated

A new bill is filed in the Philippine Senate that wants to penalize the use of virtual currencies in the commission of crimes.



A bill is filed in the 17th Philippine Congress that, when approved into a law, will penalize the use of cryptocurrencies in the commission of crimes. The bill further states that when you commit a crime, your penalty will be one degree higher when cryptocurrency is involved.

An Act Penalizing the Use of Virtual Currency in the Commision of Crimes

Filed during the 17th Congress by Senator Leila De Lima on the 14th of February 2018, the Senate Bill No. 1694 seeks to impose additional penalties when you use cryptocurrency in committing a crime. All crimes defined in the Revised Penal Code, when committed through and with the use of cryptocurrency will have a penalty that is one degree higher than what is provided for by the Revised Penal Code.

What is One Degree Higher?

Disclaimer: We’re not law experts. The Revised Penal Code of the Philippines has degrees in penalties imposed to criminals. There’s a higher degree or a lower degree depending on the crime. If for example, you committed a crime whose penalty is “Prision Mayor Minimum”. This penalty for that is imprisonment of 6 years and 1 day to 8 years. One degree higher than Prision Mayor Minimum is “Prision Mayor Medium”, which is imprisonment of 8 years and 1 day to 10 years.

So if you commit a crime that nets you 6 years in prison, if you somehow use cryptocurrency in your criminal activity, your 6 years – 8 years in prison will be 8 – 10 years instead.

How to determine the value of the crime?

It will be the value of the cryptocurrency in PHP at the time of the commission of the crime.

What happens to the cryptocurrency after the crime?

It will be confiscated by the government, unless it is a property of a third party or another person not liable for the unlawful act. The value will be determined by the BSP.

Note on the definition of Virtual Currencies in this Bill

The bill’s definition of virtual currency is the same as how it is defined by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, which is that Virtual Currencies are a form of money that is unregulated and can be traded with fiat currency. A copy of the law is listed as a resource at the end of this article.

Reactions

Mr. Miguel Cuneta of SCI Ventures shared the bill on his Twitter feed. The bill was filed on February 19, 2017, which means someone filed it on behalf of Senator De Lima, who is currently in prison.

Unlike in other countries, the Philippines has yet to have a formal law regarding cryptocurrencies. Although, the lack thereof is compensated by memorandum circulars from government agencies that act as official advisories regarding virtual currencies. Among them is the BSP’s Memorandum Circular on the usage of virtual currencies. Another one is the SEC’s official advisory on cryptocurrencies. The SEC advisory interpreted cryptocurrencies as a form of securities, and securities are governed by the Philippine Securities Regulation Code.

As to whether Senate Bill No. 1694 – An Act Penalizing the Use of Virtual Currency in the Commission of Crimes – becomes a law is anyone’s guess for now. During the first session of the 17th Congress, 4 bills were signed into laws, with hundreds that are either still waiting for the President’s approval or still on readings / for interpellation.

Resources: House Bill No. 1694, Performance of the Senate (17th Congress, First Regular Session), Mr. Miguel Cuneta on Twitter

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