Gatchalian to seek Senate inquiry on banks’ consumer protection

A RESOLUTION seeking to look into consumer protection programs implemented by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and banks will be filed in the Senate after the P1-million credit card hacking incident involving a senator. “I will file a resolution to investigate and see what banks and the BSP are doing,” Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian said in Filipino at an online briefing on Thursday. The briefing was held at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) after Mr. Gatchalian filed an incident report. The senator on Wednesday reported that his credit card, issued by the UnionBank of the Philippines, was accessed by hackers who made four separate transactions costing at least P96,000 up to P356,000 each. He said the hackers managed to change his mobile number linked to his account and redirect the one-time pin, preventing the senator from receiving notifications of the transactions. Mr. Gatchalian said following discussion with delivery firm Food Panda on Wednesday, he learned that the four transactions involved the purchase of alcoholic drinks. He said the items were delivered in different addresses, one of which is in Makati City. “Definitely, our banks need to level up in terms of consumer protection,” he said. If caught, the hackers could face penalties imposed under several laws, including Republic Act (RA) No. 8484 or the Access Devices Regulation Act of 1998, RA 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, and RA 8792 or the Electronic Commerce Act. — Charmaine A. Tadalan

Roque says return to stricter quarantine rules will depend on healthcare capacity

THE Palace on Thursday said it could reimpose stricter quarantine rules if the healthcare system becomes overwhelmed again with coronavirus cases, including the faster-spreading new variant that has yet to affect the country. Palace Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, speaking in Filipino, said in a briefing, “We will only raise (the quarantine classifications) if our hospitals are really overwhelmed and cannot give service to those who are sick.” A new coronavirus variant was first reported in the United Kingdom but similar cases have since been found in other countries. The Philippines has already imposed a travel ban on 27 countries with reported cases. The Philippines had one of the strictest and longest lockdowns among all countries in the world, affecting most economic activities and causing loss of livelihood and jobs for many Filipinos. Mr. Roque said the government is determined to prove wrong economists’ gloomy predictions on the Philippine economy for this year. He said the gradual reopening of the economy and mass vaccination will help the country recover. “We will disprove the forecast wrong,” he said, referring to a Moody’s Analytics report indicating that the Philippines will be the last in the Asia-Pacific region to recover from the recession caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. “I think we have seen the worst and I think the entire government machinery agrees with this,” he said. — Gillian M. Cortez

Ambassador confirms Filipinos among pro-Trump protesters

FILIPINO-Americans were among the pro-Trump protesters who disrupted the United States Congress as it certified President-elect Joseph R. Biden, Jr.’s victory in the November election, the Philippine envoy to America said. “Ang balita namin merong ibang Trump supporters na nakita namin na galing sa ibang state sa America, pero hindi namin sigurado kung ilan sila (The report we received is there were Trump supporters who came from other states, but we are not yet sure how many),” Philippine Ambassador to US Jose Manuel G. Romualdez said in an interview over GMA News on Thursday morning (Manila time). He also said the riot did not affect the Embassy’s location, but it is monitoring developments. Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has imposed a 6 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew following the riot. Mr. Romualdez said Mr. Biden’s confirmation is expected to push through. — Charmaine A. Tadalan