Trade dep’t backs extension of SIM listup deadline
Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual on Thursday backed the extension of the April 26 deadline for SIM card registration, saying it would help in the country’s shift to digital payments.
The Department of Information and Communications Technology earlier insisted that there was no need to extend the deadline even if 95 million users have yet to register their SIM cards and despite a request from telecommunication companies.
Pascual said in a Palace briefing that a nonextension would be a “major concern,” adding that SIM card registration “would be very important as we move toward digital payments.”
“Personally, I will go for it, but I do not know the official position of the concerned department,” he said. “Digital payments are what we need to happen to further promote and develop our MSMEs [micro, small and medium enterprises] because that’s how they can facilitate accessing the market and being able to sell online.”
In the same briefing, National Economic and Development Authority Secretary Arsenio Balisacan also said that SIM card registration would hasten the country’s shift to a digital economy. “What we are at the same time pushing for is a faster digitalization of our economy, including engagement with the public sector, with government,” Balisacan said.
“The registration of SIM [cards], the number, will help us achieve that and ensure that the benefits for example that we are providing, and if these benefits are targeted at the vulnerable and the poor, we are assured that those benefits will end up with the intended or targeted groups,” he added.
Smart Communications, Globe Telecom, and DITO Telecommunity have called for extending the deadline since, as of April 17, only 73.03 million SIM cards were registered, which is equivalent to 43.47 percent of the total number of 168 million users.
The telecommunication companies said that an extension was necessary to give all mobile users, particularly those in remote and disadvantaged areas, more time to comply with Republic Act No. 11934, or the SIM Card Registration Act, which was meant to address text scams and other crimes using a cell phone.
Smart and Globe, in particular, pointed out that people needed an extension to apply for government IDs—one of the requirements for SIM card registration under the law.