Senators back no extension of SIM cards’ April 26 registration deadline
MANILA, Philippines — Senators have backed maintaining the April 26 deadline for mobile phone subscribers to register their subscriber identity module (SIM) cards.
Senate Minority Leader Koko Pimentel and Senators Sherwin Gatchalian and Francis “Chiz” Escucero were asked on Monday if they saw the need for the extension amid calls to lengthen the SIM card registration period beyond April 26.
“No need to extend. The object of the law is really to find out which SIM [cards] are not being used for serious, legal, or important purposes. [So] if only 44 percent are worth keeping active then, so be it,” Pimentel told reporters in a message.
Among the prime movers of the Republic Act No. 11934 or SIM Registration Act in the Senate, Gatchalian echoed Pimentel’s remark, noting that the number of enrolled SIM cards “will never reach 100 percent.”
“There are an estimated 110 million prepaid SIM cards. Our population, including children and babies, is 109 million. This means that many people own multiple prepaid SIM cards. It is natural that the number of prepaid SIM cards will go down because people are already foregoing ownership of multiple prepaid SIM cards,” he said in a separate message.
Escudero, however, said he does not understand why a deadline was set in the first place.
“People get new SIM cards almost every day…It should simply be a continuing requirement where certain services will not be available unless you register,” he explained in another message.
Senator Grace Poe, head of the upper chamber’s public services committee, had earlier argued against extending the deadline despite the appeal of major telecommunication firms Globe Telecom Inc., Smart Communications Inc., and DITO Telecommunity Corp.
The telcos cited many challenges many mobile phone subscribers faced, such as lack of required identification documents and poor or no internet connection.
But the Department of Information and Communications Technology did not budge as it remained firm with the April 26 deadline for SIM card registration.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. signed the SIM Registration Act on October 10, 2022. The law is seen to curb the alarming spread of spam messages and scams in the country through short messaging services (SMS) or text.
It requires all mobile phone subscribers to register their SIM cards six months after the law takes effect. If mobile phone subscribers fail to do so, their SIM cards will be automatically deactivated after the listup period.
Deactivated SIM cards, however, may still be revived within five days from their automatic deactivation, according to the National Telecommunications Commission.
There is a pending petition before the Supreme Court to declare the SIM Registration Act unconstitutional. The petitioners argue that the law “tramples upon zones of privacy and sweeps away all protections guaranteed by the Constitution against unreasonable searches and seizures.”