Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) Congressman Win Gatchalian is urging telecommunications companies to prioritize the safety and security of the public over profits, saying telcos should reconsider their anti-SIM card registration stance as pre-paid SIM cards are being used by criminal syndicates to their advantage.
“Telcos should put the welfare and security of their consumers as their primordial concern,” said Gatchalian, a majority member of the House committee on trade and industry.
Gatchalian is a co-author of House Bill No. 5231, to be known as the “Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Card Registration Act,” which seeks to deter crimes committed through mobile phones, including text scams.
The bill was approved by the House on third reading last May while its Senate counterpart is still being considered at the committee level.
Gatchalian explained that SIM card registration is a basic measure that will protect the mobile phone subscribers.
“Commercialism should take a back seat when the telcos services are being used to perpetuate criminality and harassment. This is small and basic procedure will keep their consumers safe and secure,” he pointed out.
The Valenzuela City representative also noted that mobile phone service providers should not dilly-dally on the anti-crime bill, saying the measure’s real opponents are those who engineer criminal activities and terror plots.
“Who’s afraid of SIM card registration? Definitely those who have plans to violate the laws of the land or those who seek to bring terror and destabilize the status quo. We will all benefit from this security measure, even the telcos whose cell sites are often targeted by rebels,” Gatchalian said.
Senator Vicente Sotto III, who authored the counterpart SIM Card Registration bill in the Senate, voiced a similar view as Gatchalian, saying the right to life should take precedence over the right to “telecommunicate”.
Sotto said phones with prepaid SIM cards have been used in negotiating ransom with families of kidnap victims as well as terrorists who use mobile phones in remotely detonating explosives.
He said there were countries where there was no need for a law requiring SIM card registration because the telecommunications companies did this themselves.
A 2013 white paper by the GSM Association, a group of mobile operators, shows that mandatory registration of prepaid SIM card users is already being implemented in parts of Europe, Australia, Africa, and Asia. (Monica Cantilero)