New Optical Media Board chief grilled over agency's functions, confidential funds

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 03 2020 12:35 AM

MANILA - Just marking his second day in office as Optical Media Board chairman, former Malolos city mayor Christian Natividad experienced Friday how to be peppered with difficult questions, courtesy of Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon.

As Natividad presented the OMB's proposed P70.1 million budget for 2021, Drilon started quizzing him on the significance of the OMB today, when the use of DVDs and CDs is already a thing of the past.

According to Drilon, the OMB's functions are already being carried out by the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation.

The OMB, which is under the Office of the President, regulates the mastering, manufacture or replication of optical and magnetic media. 

“The NBI and the PNP have the cybercrime section function. They are police agents, law enforcement. Cybercrimes are basically under the NBI and the PNP,” he noted.

Natividad maintained however that the OMB deals more on individuals or groups that steal intellectual property or programs covered by the intellectual property rights, including movies.

“We are more on the (hardware) and the OMB cannot act on cybercrimes because we are more on the protection of intellectual property rights,” Natividad says.

During his budget presentation, Natividad appealed to the senators for budget support so he could beef up the agency’s resources and strengthen it.

Part of the agency’s needs is to acquire at least two vehicles which they will use for their operations.

The agency is asked for a P5 million budget as confidential funds, which the Department of Budget and Management earlier scrapped.

Drilon expressed concern on the request, saying confidential and intelligence funds are "the easiest way to liquidate through a close envelope system."

"You just write in a sheet of paper how you spent the confidential fund. That is why I am wary about these confidential funds,” he said.

Natividad sought understanding, saying the OMB has only 77 personnel in the whole country.

“We will be needing augmentations for that, and that is just the request of the previous board to have confidential funds,” he said.

The OMB budget was deemed submitted to the plenary.

Last month, the agency confiscated P3.4 million worth of counterfeit storage media devices in Valenzuela City, and P1.1 million worth of pirated software in Manila.