House finally approves refiled SIM card registration bill
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives has approved on final reading the refiled measure that will require the registration of subscriber identity module (SIM) card ownership.
During Monday’s session, 250 lawmakers voted in favor of passing House Bill No. 14 while six voted against it and one legislator abstained from voting.
House Bill No. 14 was initially filed by Speaker and Leyte 1st District Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, Ilocos 1st District Rep. Alexander Marcos, and Tingog party-list Reps. Yedda Marie Romualdez and Jude Acidre. Similar bills were also filed but all were consolidated into one proposed measure.
The House approved the bill just months after former president Rodrigo Duterte vetoed the measure due to issues with the registration of social media accounts – which was removed under House Bill No. 14.
In the explanatory note of House Bill No. 14, the authors noted that telecommunication companies have already removed millions of spam messages and deactivated thousands of phone numbers which could have been solved by requiring ownership registration of SIM cards.
They also mentioned in the explanatory note of the original bill that telco firm Globe Telecom Inc. has blocked almost 71 million spam messages and deactivated 5,670 mobile phone numbers in 2021 alone after complaints from subscribers.
Globe’s competitor PLDT, on the other hand, managed to block 23 million text messages in just three days – from June 11-14. Most of the messages posed as legitimate organizations but had links that redirected users to phishing websites.
Under House Bill No. 14, SIM card buyers would be required to provide public telecommunications entities (PTEs) with valid documents, a complete registration form, and photos to ascertain their identity.
If the customer fails to present any of those IDs, a National Bureau of Investigation clearance, police clearance, or a Philippine Statistics Authority-certified birth certificate with an ID picture would be accepted instead.
House Bill No. 14 also imposes penalties for PTEs who will fail to comply with the regulation. PTEs may be fined up to P300,000 for the first offense, P500,000 for the second offense, and up to P1 million for the third and any succeeding offenses.
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