A majority member in the House of Representatives has called on for the swift passage into law of a proposed measure that will require the mandatory registration of all prepaid SIM cards amid the increasing number of crimes related to mobile technology.
Valenzuela City Congressman Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian earlier filed House Bill No. 2624, which compels local telecommunication companies and their agents to obtain the names and addresses of prepaid SIM card buyers.
Gatchalian, a stalwart of the National People’s Coalition or NPC, explained his bill would require consumers to present a valid government ID, a school ID, or a company ID before they can purchase prepaid SIM cards in the Philippines.
“Mandatory registration of prepaid SIM cards will serve as deterrent to crimes committed using mobile phones and this include the rampant text scams that have already victimized many of our countrymen, including unwary government officials,” said Gatchalian.
Gatchalian was referring to Ninoy Aquino International Airport or NAIA general manager Angel Honrado who admitted to reporters last July that he fell prey to an unidentified text scammer who made him lose P500 worth of credits through the practice of “pasa load”.
The lawmaker pointed out that such scam will not be possible if all prepaid SIM cards are properly registered since criminal-minded individuals only thrive in anonymity and will not dare commit illegal acts that will point to them as the perpetrator of the crime.
“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,” Gatchalian explained.
Gatchalian noted that Southeast Asian countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei are already implementing the mandatory registration of prepaid SIM cards, saying this is one reason why text scams do not thrive in these countries.
Under the proposed law, sales agents will have to submit to their corresponding telecoms the verified names and addresses of buyers within 15 days from the date of sale.
Such firms will submit the official receipts to the National Telecommunications Company. SIM cards will only be activated by telecoms after the process of registration has been completed.
Current prepaid users, meanwhile, have to register with their respective telecoms within three months after the proposed law is passed or else have their mobile services will be deactivated until compliance.
HB 2624 is now being processed by the technical working group of the House Committee on Information and Communications Technology or ICT.
The panel is poised to finalize amendments to come up with a committee report on the measure. It will also be consolidated with other similar bills filed in the said committee.
As of June, the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company or PLDT Group had a total cellular base of 68.9 million subscribers, of which 66.3 million are prepaid users, showed a report dated Aug. 5 submitted by the Pangilinan-led firm to state regulators.
Meanwhile, Globe Telecom had a mobile customer base of 42.7 million in the year’s first half, of which 40.6 million are prepaid users, the company reported on Aug. 20. (Monica Cantilero)