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Telcos renew support for SIM card registration bill


By Arjay L. Balinbin, Senior Reporter

THE country’s major mobile network operators said on Wednesday that they are ready to support the legislative process for the proposed measure mandating the registration of subscriber identity module or SIM cards under the Marcos administration.

PLDT, Inc.’s wireless arm unit Smart Communications, Inc., Globe Telecom, Inc., and DITO Telecommunity Corp. issued statements on Wednesday expressing their support for the bill that was previously vetoed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

Senator Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares, who chairs the Senate committee on public services, said on June 15 that she intends to refile her original bill.

The bill will “ensure consumer protection,” PLDT’s Smart said.

“As a longtime advocate of consumer online protection, Smart has been actively implementing initiatives to keep our customers safe, especially from scams and fraud,” Alfredo S. Panlilio, PLDT and Smart president and chief executive officer, said in an e-mailed statement.

“We are always ready to support the legislative process. We welcome any opportunity to contribute to the success of the SIM card registration bill and support the government in developing its implementing rules and regulations,” he added.

PLDT and Smart recently said that more than 23 million SMS containing three URLs identified as phishing sites have been blocked.

In a statement to BusinessWorld, Globe said its support for the bill is “part of our commitment to support the government in its fight against fraud, terrorism and other crimes.”

“It also paves the way for greater digital and financial inclusion.”

At the same time, it noted that the National ID system rollout should be completed for this proposed measure to be successful, “as we need a reliable and verifiable source of identification to lay the foundation for a credible database.”

“This is a critical component in ensuring mobile phone users are protected against text scams and crimes perpetrated in anonymity.”

“We look forward to working with Congress in threshing out critical issues surrounding the bill’s proposed implementation once enacted into law, particularly in addressing challenges on the timetable for registration of tens of millions of SIM cards currently in use,” it added.

The company has around 87 million mobile customers out of the more than 120 million total mobile customers in the country. It said that around 95% of these customers are using prepaid SIMs.

For his part, DITO Chief Administrative Officer Adel A. Tamano said the company is “ready for it.”

“We support the government’s objective to protect the public from criminality based on the use of unregistered SIM cards,” he said in a statement to BusinessWorld.

Malacañang said that Mr. Duterte vetoed the bill because such a measure could result in “dangerous state intrusion and surveillance, threatening many constitutionally protected rights,” as it also calls for the registration of social media accounts.

The proposed measure sets penalties for anyone who registers a SIM card using false information.

Ms. Poe has said that she intends to talk with her fellow senators in the incoming 19th Congress to “rally support for the measure to help expedite deliberations.”

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls.

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