What’s the point of an anti-scams task force?
August 2, 2007
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo recently appointed the Department of Finance (DoF) to head a task force intended to protect Filipinos against investment scams, reported the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Additional task force members that will provide DoF with support include the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and House and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB).
The move came following the recent upsurge of investment scams in the Philippines that defrauded thousands of Filipinos their hard-earned money.
The task force is empowered to "monitor investment schemes, including real estate projects, especially those marketed to the public and overseas Filipino workers."
Specifically, the task force is expected to:
- Monitor investment schemes and products.
- Give public warnings on questionable schemes and products.
- File evidence and recommend prosecution to the DOJ.
- Recommend appropriate legislation and regulations for investor protection.
We, however, think the creation of the task force amounts to admission on the part of the government that it has been ineffective in the past in terms of dealing with fraudulent investment programs.
It's not like investment scams emerged only now. True, their number has risen recently, but that does not mean no government body was — and still is — in charge of those.
The SEC has long been tasked with identifying and closing investment programs suspected of operating as a pyramid or Ponzi. The NBI too has been involved with hunting down criminals, including scammers who defraud the investing public.
For what actual purpose, then, is this anti-investment scams task force?
Granted the intentions were good. But the task force's responsibilities are just redundant with the SEC's and NBI's. What Arroyo could have simply done was enjoin both the SEC and NBI to strengthen their monitoring and policing powers in order to catch more scammers. In addition, the two agencies should ask the public for more cooperation with regard to reporting scams and would-be scams.
Of course, in order to do this, the SEC and NBI would need more budget to be able to follow the complicated online trail of scammers. More money should also be placed in the government's Witness Protection Program to attract more people, especially employees or agents of investment scams, to report scammers.
The least the public needs right now is another government task force. In order to reduce, if not totally eliminate, investment scams in the Philippines, what Filipinos need is more information about scams and investment programs and a bolder move on the part of existing government agencies to hunt down and jail scammers.
Join the discussion in the "Government's Anti-Scams Task Force" thread in the PMT Forum.