Valenzuela City Congressman Win Gatchalian has expressed confidence that the proposed measure seeking the mandatory registration of prepaid subscriber identity module (SIM) card will be enacted into law before the end of President Benigno Aquino III’s term in 2016.
Gatchalian is the author of House Bill No. 2624, which is one of the nine bills substituted by HB 5231 or the “Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Card Registration Act” that was approved on third reading at the House of Representative last Wednesday.
The Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) congressman said the approval of HB 5231 on third reading less than six months after it was first tackled in the committee level indicates that his fellow lawmakers saw the urgent need to pass such law.
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“I believe the proposed mandatory registration of prepaid SIM card will immediately be approved since it is evident that my colleagues also saw it as a deterrent to crimes committed using mobile phones and this include the rampant text scams,” said Gatchalian, a member of House Committee on Trade and Industry.
The Valenzuela City lawmaker explained that the prepaid SIM card registration is a security measure that will prevent the use of cellular phones in illegal activities such as extortion, grave threats, bullying, and even kidnap-for-ransom, in which crooks are known to use various prepaid SIM cards while negotiating the amount of ransom with the families of their victims.
Under House Bill No. 5231 or the “Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Card Registration Act”, buyers are required to present a valid identification card with photo to sellers when purchasing SIM cards.
Buyers are also required to accomplish and sign a registration form with a control number issued by the telecommunication company of the SIM card being purchased.
In the form, buyers should be able to attest their personal appearance before the seller, and the identification documents they have presented are true and correct.
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Buyers of the SIM card shall personally accomplish and sign the form before the seller.
Those who fail to present a valid ID with photo and accomplish the form cannot purchase prepaid SIM card.
One of the key provisions of the bill is that it allows telecommunication companies to deactivate unregistered SIM cards.
Failure to comply with the measure entails penalties for both the seller and telecommunication companies: Sellers will be fined between P5,000 and P50,000 and may face suspension while telcos are fined P300,000 for first offense, P500,000 for second offense, and P1,000,000 for third and subsequent violations.
Malacañang and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) have earlier shown their support on the proposed mandatory prepaid SIM card registration.
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“It is preferable that a law be passed requiring SIM card registration. The Executive branch has manifested its support to proposed bills that are now being discussed in Congress,” said Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said during a press briefing in Malacañang last year.
Gatchalian also urged fellow lawmakers in the Senate to act on a counterpart version of the proposed prepared SIM card registration act.
As of September last year, Senate has yet to file its counterpart version of the bill, but Senators Teofisto Guingona III and Vicente Sotto III have already manifested their support on passing a bill that seeks to require the registration of prepaid SIM cards. (Tim Alcantara)