Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III has expressed support for Sen. Vicente Sotto III’s proposal mandating telecommunication companies to register pre-paid SIM cards to address abuses resulting from the loose sale of such cards in the country.
Pimentel said that aside from preventing unscrupulous individuals and criminals in using pre-paid SIM cards in their illegal activities, the registration will also enhance government monitoring and collection system on the telcos.
“I fully support Senator Sotto’s move calling for the mandatory registration of pre-paid SIM cards. We have witnessed how criminal minds abused the non-registration and loose regulation on SIM cards — latest of which was the Davao City bombing where the bomb was allegedly detonated using a cellular phone,” Pimentel said.
Pimentel cited the Malaysian model in registration of pre-paid SIM cards. Aside from recording of SIM card users, the registration could also improve monitoring of sales and tax payment of telcos.
“Aside from recording data of pre-paid SIM users, the registration can also enhance government monitoring of, and revenue collection from telcos as audits can be done easily based primarily on the recorded purchase of pre-paid SIM cards, and to ensure accuracy and validity of subscribers’ records,” Pimentel said.
Since December 16, 2006, Malaysia mandated the registration of all SIM cards bought and issued in Kuala Lumpur before being activated. The registration is done at the point of purchase and takes only a minute or two.
Under Sotto’s proposed Senate Bill No. 7, the National Telecommunications Commission, in close coordination with the Department of Trade and Industry and telco companies, shall formulate the necessary guidelines for the proper implementation of the pre-paid SIM card registration process.
The bill also states that all mobile phone service providers shall require ownership registration as prerequisite to selling pre-paid SIM cards.
The use of pre-paid SIM cards has flourished as these can be purchased practically anywhere by anybody without any need to present identification and/or credit background checks.
In the Philippines, the subscriber base of pre-paid SIM cards grows dramatically each year, reaching an estimated number of almost 100 million, or about 90 percent of the entire cellular phone service market.