Senator seeks Palace support for SIM registration bill

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A senator on Saturday urged the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to convince Malacañang to support a measure mandating the registration of subscriber identity module (SIM) cards.

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Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian stressed the need for the measure, highlighting that 110 million prepaid SIM cards are active in the country.

“If you look at statistics, there are about 110 million active and outstanding prepaid SIM cards in the whole country,” Gatchalian said.

He added, “If our population is 100 million, it appears that even babies have prepaid SIM card. It just goes to say that some people own two, three, four SIM cards.”

The lawmaker noted that criminal groups have been using prepaid SIM cards in their illegal activities.

“And that’s becoming a source of harassment and criminality. So, it’s about time to have that registration of prepaid SIM cards. We’re the only country in Asia that does not register prepaid SIM cards,” Gatchalian said.

Gatchalian has authored Senate Bill 203, or the “SIM Card Registration Act,” which requires all prospective buyers of prepaid SIM cards to present a valid identification cards bearing their photographs before being allowed to purchase one.

Old SIM cards, on the other hand, will be required to be registered within 180 days from the effectivity of the proposed measure, he cited.

“We’re calling on DICT Secretary Rodolfo Salalima to push for the approval of this proposal,” said the lawmaker who is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs.

“I remember that during his confirmation hearings, Secretary Salalima assured members of the Commission on Appointments that he would support this bill. Let’s see what will be his action on this,” the lawmaker noted.

Gatchalian said he was confident that Salalima would “faithfully exercise his duties as DICT secretary despite his close ties to telecom (telecommunications) insiders.”

Prior to his appointment to head the DICT, Salalima served as chief legal counsel and senior vice president for corporate and regulatory affairs of Globe Telecom.

Gatchalian recalled that as Globe’s legal counsel, Salalima objected to the mandatory registration of SIM cards as he cited how the measure would reduce the sales of prepaid SIM cards and affect income of telecommunication companies (telcos).

Gatchalian, meanwhile, lamented that intense lobbying from telcos has made it difficult to muster majority support for the proposed measure in Congress.

“Telecom industry players have been the biggest stumbling block to the approval of this proposed scheme. With Secretary Salalima now at the helm of the DICT, I hope he would succeed where legislators have so far failed—to change the minds of telecoms honchos and make them agree with the proposal,” he said.

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