Senator Win Gatchalian called on colleagues to have the bill seeking to lift the validity period of prepaid load credits for phones and internet services tackled in the Senate.
“The harsh reality in this era of coronavirus pandemic is that we rely on information and communication technologies (ICT) in our daily life. And for those with limited resources, every peso counts. Forfeiture of unused prepaid load credits due to expiration period is somehow unconscionable under the current situation,” Gatchalian said.
The senator said such policy is unwarranted as subscribers should be made to consume the load credits and avail of the services they have paid for.
“To restrict them due to expiration periods is rather anti-consumer. Unlike in other goods that are edible and have efficacy, this kind of commodity depends on the subscribers’ usage and they should be given the choice whether or not to make full use of the services,” Gatchalian emphasized.
The Vice Chairman of the Economic Affairs Committee said it’s high time that such policy imposed by public telecommunications entities (PTEs) and ICT providers be subject to a review.
Gatchalian, in filing of Senate Bill No. 365 or the Prepaid Load Forever Act, is proposing to prohibit all PTEs and ICT providers from imposing an expiration date on the validity period of prepaid load credits, regardless of the amount involved, unless fully consumed.
Covered in the senator’s proposal are prepaid cards and electronic loads for services that offer voice, short messaging system (SMS) or text, mobile data, value added services (VAS) and those loaded to devices that make use of the internet such as tablets, Wi-Fi dongles or mobile hotspots.
“Sa panahon ngayon na iginagapang ng karamihan ang arawang gastusin at ginagawa na ang lahat ng paraan ng pagtitipid, nararapat lamang na tulungan natin silang mapagaan ang kanilang mga pasanin ,” said Gatchalian.
The proposed bill imposes a fine that ranges from P100,000 to as much as P2 million and imprisonment of two to six years plus an immediate revocation of license to engage in business will be meted against those who will violate the acts covered in the bill.
Currently, prepaid load credits worth P300 have one-year validity while those with higher value have a longer expiration period.
“The ICT devices have played an essential role in dealing with the challenges that have emerged within a socially distanced environment. In continuing our daily grind under the new normal, we’re highly dependent on telecommunication and ICT services. For ordinary folks, losing their load credits paid by their hard-earned money is a big deal. They should be afforded with the services they have paid for,” said Gatchalian.