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Fernandez wants stiffer penalties vs ‘kidnap me’ scam

By Billy Begas

A lawmaker from Laguna has filed a measure seeking stiffer penalties against perpetrators of “kidnap me” or hoax kidnapping.

In House Bill 539, Rep. Dan Fernandez said that there is no specific law penalizing hoax kidnapping or when a supposed victim stages his or her own kidnapping to extort money from his or her family.

Citing data from the Philippine National Police-Anti-Kidnapping Group, Fernandez said 35 cases of hoax kidnapping incidents happened from 2017 to 2019.

Fernandez said since there is no specific and distinct crime of hoax kidnapping perpetrators are only charged with violation of Articles 318 (other deceits) of the Revised Penal Code with penalties of imprisonment from one to six months and a fine of not less than the amount of the damage caused but not more than twice; or Article 287 (other coercions or unjust vexations) of the RPC with penalties of one to 30 days imprisonment and a fine ranging from P1,000 to P40,000 or both.

Under the measure, hoax kidnapping will be defined as faking, orchestrating, or staging by a person of his or her own kidnapping and detention for the purpose of extorting ransom from that person’s family or other entities.

The penalty will be six months to six years imprisonment and a fine ranging from P100,000 to P1 million.