Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Drilon, De Lima lament veto of SIM card registration bill

Opposition senators Franklin M. Drilon and Leila de Lima slammed on Wednesday, April 20, the veto of the SIM card registration bill by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte.

Senators Leila de Lima (left) and Franklin Drilon
Photo from Senate

Drilon defended the constitutionality of the vetoed bill as he underscored that the measure contains no constitutional infirmity, specifically the provision that merely mandates the use of one’s real name and registered SIM card in creating social media accounts.

“I am confident that the provision that we worked hard for in order to prevent trolls, fraudsters, scammers and online bullies from hiding behind fake names is constitutional and can withstand judicial scrutiny,” Drilon said in a statement.

“The measure is constitutional. The bill does not in any way limit speech. It does not curtail one’s ability to post on social media. This is not designed to suppress any particular message,” Drilon stressed.

The bill only requires the use of one’s real name and registered SIM card in creating social media accounts, he emphasized.

“Even a freshman law student can tell that that provision would not violate any constitutional right. They should review their Constitution,” the senator said.

He added: “Is it a prior restraint on free speech? No, it is not. You can still post anytime, anywhere and whatever you want to post. Does it even regulate the time, place or manner of posting? It definitely does not.”

The bill also contains numerous safeguards to ensure privacy, Drilon underscored.

Section 9 of the bill provides for the confidentiality clause which mandates that “any information obtained in the registration process described under this Act cannot be disclosed to any person.”

The disclosure may only be done in compliance with any law obligating the telcos or social media provider to disclose such information in accordance with the provisions of Republic Act. No. 10173 or the Data Privacy Act of 2012; in compliance with a court order, legal process, or other government regulatory, or enforceable administrative request for information; in compliance with Section 10 of the bill; or with the written consent of the subscriber.

Drilon also dismissed allegations that the inclusion of social media is a rider and a last-minute insertion.

A rider is violative of the constitutional provision requiring that a bill passed by the Congress shall embrace only one subject which shall be expressed in the title thereof. The constitutional prohibition precludes the insertion of riders in legislation, a rider being a provision not germane to the subject matter of the bill.

In this case, according to Drilon, the bill does not embrace more than one subject as the title itself is clear on this: “An Act to Eradicate Mobile Phone, Internet or Electronic Communicated-Aided Terrorism and Criminal Activities, Mandating for this Purpose Ownership Registration of All SIM Cards for Electronic Devices and Social Media Accounts.”

The title itself not only reasonably sets forth the metes and bounds of the legislation, but its purpose as well, he added.

De Lima, meanwhile, also expressed dismay over the veto, saying she found it unfortunate that Duterte vetoed the bill on the grounds of the provision requiring disclosure for social media accounts.

Hindi basta na lang nilagay diyan ang probisyon na nagre-require ng pagre-rehistro ng social media account. Ito ay masusing pinag-aralan ng mga senador bago inaprubahan,” she said.

Nakikita natin nagaganap sa bansa natin pati sa buong mundo kung paanong ginagamit ang mga anonymous na social media account hindi lang para magkalat ng maling impormasyon sa social media, kundi upang gumawa ng mga labag sa batas tulad ng terorismo, cybercrime, child pornography, at iba pa.

Kung paanong dapat maging responsable ang mga tao sa kanilang mga SIM card ay dapat maging responsable din sila sa kanilang social media accounts,” she added.

De Lime further said: “Tama si Sen. Drilon. Ang mga bayarang trolls ang panalo sa pag-veto na ito. Panalo rin mga criminal syndicates.”

In vetoing the bill, acting presidential spokesperson Martin Andanar said Duterte did not agree with the provision of the bill, which includes social media platforms as part of the requirements.

Ratified by Congress in February, the consolidated Senate Bill No. 2395 and House Bill No. 5793 aims to mandate all public telecommunications entities to require the registration of SIM cards as a prerequisite to their sale and activation.

It also requires social media networks to get real names and phone numbers of users upon creation of their accounts.

De Lima maintained that the measure could help in fighting criminality and ensuring that offenders will be held accountable.

“If we are truly serious about our fight against criminality and fake news peddlers, and holding offenders responsible for their words and action, we must give this measure a chance to be enacted, in one form or another,” she said.


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