Sen. Grace Poe said she will refile her original bill on SIM card registration in the 19th Congress to thwart the text scams that are still being sent to mobile users.
The bill was vetoed last April by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, saying a provision on the inclusion of social media companies in the registration requirement was a last-minute insertion. Civil society groups also opposed the bill, noting that it poses a grave threat to the individual rights to privacy and free expression not only of Filipinos but also of other Philippine residents.
But Poe and fellow senator Sherwin Gatchalian, another sponsor of the bill, are undeterred and have vowed to push for the passage of the proposed law.
“Unless a law is passed, the bombardment of unwanted text messages will persist. We need more than band-aid solutions to these unrelenting scams,” Poe stressed in a radio interview.
She added: “Ang SIM Card Registration bill ay magbibigay-daan para masupil natin ang talamak na text scams. Ang problema kasi ngayon, dumarami ang manloloko, nag-aalok ng trabaho na kapag ibinigay mo ang iyong impormasyon, ‘yun pala pagnanakawan ka.“
“Mahirap habulin ang mga ‘yan, sapagkat marami sa kanila ay prepaid ang ginagamit. Hindi nakarehistro ‘yan,” she stressed.
Under Poe’s bill in the last Congress, all existing prepaid SIM card subscribers with active services shall register within 180 days from the effectivity of the proposed law. Telcos will be authorized to deactivate SIM card numbers that have not been registered within the prescribed period.
Poe said that without the protection of the measure, the public becomes vulnerable to fraudulent transactions that place their sensitive data such as bank accounts, passwords, profiles, among other information, at risk.
Despite efforts by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and telecommunications companies to warn the public against text scams and make them block or report the messages, Poe bewailed that text scams have remained rampant.
“Kung makakatanggap ang NTC ng 1,000 report sa isang araw halimbawa ay hindi naman nila matututukan ‘yan. Pwede nilang ibigay ‘yan sa mga telco, pero iba-block lang nila ang mga number na ‘yan at manganganak uli dahil bibili uli ‘yan ng prepaid card na hindi naman magrerehistro kung sino ‘yun so hindi pa rin matutunton,” Poe said.
“Kaya band-aid solution lang ito, ibig sabihin, panandaliang solusyon lamang pero hindi pa rin ito makapagbibigay ng sapat na solusyon,” Poe emphasized.
Poe said she intends to talk with her fellow senators in the incoming 19th Congress to rally support for the measure to help expedite deliberations.
The senator said they will discuss if the provision on social media registration can be incorporated anew in the bill or can be a subject of a separate legislation.
“Milyun-milyon nating mga kababayan ang nabibiktima ng text scams. Kailangan natin ng batas na ito para epektibong masugpo ng pamahalaan ang mga sindikatong nanlilinlang sa gipit nating mga kababayan,” Poe said.