The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a proposed measure seeking the mandatory registration of subscriber identity module cards of mobile phone users in the country on second reading.
In passing the proposed law on SIM card registration on second reading, the House approved the recommendation of its committee on information and communications technology chaired by Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco to adopt House Speaker Martin Romualdez’s House Bill 14 “without amendments” as the mother bill, in consolidation with 15 other related measures.
Romualdez’s co-authors of Bill No. 14 are Representatives Ferdinand Alexander A. Marcos of Ilocos Norte, and Yedda Marie K. Romualdez and Jude Acidre, both of Tingog Partylist.
Marcos and Acidre sponsored the measure aimed at preventing the proliferation of mobile phone scams, data breaches, and assist law enforcement agencies in resolving crimes involving the use of mobile phone units.
The proposed measure was passed on second reading after the motion to approve the bill was made by House Deputy Majority Leader Lorenz Defensor.
Tiangco, who is also the principal sponsor of the bill, cited data from the Statistica Research in April that states that there are now more than 157 million mobile subscribers in the Philippines, compared to 2020 when there were roughly about 145 million mobile subscribers.
He raised that more Filipinos have registered more than one SIM card under their name, hence, the increase in the number of mobile subscribers in the country.
“This may look best for competition as phone subscribers switch from one network to another just by swapping SIM cards in their phone. However, this practice also unlocks fraudulent opportunities for nefarious individuals, at least, and criminal acts for terrorists and insurgents, at worst,” he said.
“It is an accepted fact that anonymity involved in prepaid SIM cards constitutes a major threat to our law enforcement. Banking and financial frauds, kidnapping, sexual exploitation of children, cybertheft and other similar crimes have been reported but remain unsolved due to the untraceable nature of disposable prepaid SIM cards,” he added.
Likewise, Marcos delivered a sponsorship speech in support of the measure’s passage — his first as a congressman.
Marcos stressed that the proliferation of text scams and frauds through the use of SMS messaging should be taken seriously.
“They take various forms ranging from ridiculous winnings in raffles which we have never participated in to dangerous but fake warnings about problems with our bank accounts,” he said.
“Furthermore, in recent times this trend has evolved into including our full names, pertaining to an entirely new breach of our privacy vis-a-vis a serious leakage of our sensitive information intended to keep private with the responsible government agencies appearing to be helpless about these issues, we must find an appropriate solution,” he added.
Acidre said that without the safeguards from the measure the public will become “vulnerable to ripoffs that take away their money and cause them anxiety; the onslaught of cybercrimes and fake news that tear away the fabric of our democracy. Jurisprudence is replete with examples clarifying the limits of our rights in cases of illicit acts or when public safety and order are at stake.
“Requiring the registration of SIM cards establishes the identity of users and makes them accountable for everything that they do with their number deters perpetrators from committing cybercrimes because they can no longer hide behind false identities. Too many Filipinos are falling prey to these online and text scams. Mr. Speaker, esteemed colleagues, technology should make our lives better, and it is our duty to keep it so,” he added.
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