The country has seen a rise in cybercrime and cyber bullying because of a shortage of police personnel dedicated to handle such cases, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said on Wednesday.
Supt. Michael Angelo Zuñiga, the head of the PNP’s Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG), said cyber bullying is also rising because the police unit is still in the middle of the “Cyber Awareness Campaign” which has yet to reach other regions.
Zuniga admitted that police officers under the ACG have yet to been deployed.
“We only have five field units consisting of 10 regions and we have 18 regions…if we will base it from [the start]of our creation, I would say [cybercrime cases]would continue to rise because people are not actually aware how to report it and those who know it, we still cannot capture all the offenses because we don’t have that capability,” he told reporters.
Zuniga said cyber bullying can cover several acts.
“For example, a student may be suspended, expelled from attending school and for an adult, bullying is a general term when we use social media or the internet,” he said.
“Cyber bullying is a general term but there are offenses [for]specific violations such as online libel, threats, there are others presented earlier and these are all considered [as]cyber bullying but there are specific provisions of the Revised Penal Code and special laws that punishes these acts,” Zuniga added.
From 2013 to 2017, the police had recorded 1,681 cases of cybercrime cases. These are broken down to online libel with 1,085; online threat, 440; unjust vexation, 100; and 46 cases for violation of the Republic Act 7610 or the Anti-Bullying Act of 2013.
Zuñiga said even if the number of recorded cases of cyberbullying had increased, the PNP did not consider this alarming.
“There are cases that we have received and investigated but this does not represent the cases we have filed. Only what we have received and investigated. There were some who filed and have done successful prosecutions,” he said.
Victims of cyber bullying can fight back by collecting evidence, protecting their accounts or reaching out for help.
The ACG will soon have forensic equipment coming from grants of other countries including Australia and the United States.
“It consists of digital forensic devices and we also submitted our enhancement program and if it will be approved, there will be a lot of latest technology on digital forensics and machines that we will be having,” Zuñiga.
But even if the unit will acquire advanced technologies, he said the ACG still lacks personnel.