MANILA - The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Thursday said it needs about P300 million to boost its anti-cybercrime division as incidents of online fraud increased during the global pandemic, when a lot of people work, study and transact online to avoid contracting COVID-19 outdoors.
While authorities have arrested some 252 individuals who either stole identities or committed fraud online, the PNP's "cyberpatrol" efforts need to be improved, PNP chief Gen. Camilo Cascolan said during a budget hearing in the Senate.
"We requested funds for the cybercrime development and capabilities in the amount of P300 million," Cascolan told senators.
"To be frank with you, we are even being hacked by a lot of hackers," he said.
Cascolan did not give details about the hacking incidents, but said that there remains to be a "lot of scammer and predators in the online world."
The number of phishing and donation scams rose in April, a month after Luzon was placed on lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19, the National Bureau of Investigations (NBI) earlier said, without giving exact figures.
The number of reported online sexual exploitation of children in the Philippines increased by at least 260 percent during the coronavirus lockdown, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Sen. Ramon "Bong" Revilla, who raised the cybercrime issue during budget deliberations in the Senate, said the chamber will try to augment to PNP's budget for its online patrol units.
"This goes beyond cyber bullying. Online selling scam ang pinakanagaganap ngayon," Revilla said.
"We need to strengthen the capacity of the PNP by augmenting the budget to counter cybercrime," he said.
The PNP is batting for a P190.51-billion budget in 2021, 2 percent higher than its current P187.32-billion funding.