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Editing and Additional Reporting by Nathaniel Cajuday
- The SIM card registration deadline in the Philippines, as mandated by the SIM Card Registration Act, has been extended to July 25, 2023, allowing those who have not registered to comply within the 90-day extension period. Failure to register may result in the suspension of “most” mobile services, including social media access.
- Along with the extension, the Supreme Court has denied the request of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, Inc. and other petitioners to issue a temporary restraining order to stop implementing the SIM Card Registration Act.
- The extension has also gathered different views from government authorities:
- For Senator Grace Poe, the extension will help Filipinos with unregistered SIMs prepare the documents needed to register and find answers to their concerns regarding the law.
- While for Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, the SIM registration would never hit 100% and that is a natural thing.
- An extension is not needed, according to Senator Koko Pimentel.
- The extension will also be the final extension of the law, NTC Deputy Commissioner Jon Paulo Salvahan insisted.
- But for DICT Secretary Ivan Uy, the low percentage turnout of SIM registration was because of “hard-headed” Filipinos’ “bad habit” of delaying their tasks until “the last minute.”
With only around 49.31%, or about 82.89 million, of the 169 million SIM cards in the country registered in line with Republic Act 11934, or the SIM Card Registration Act, the Department of Justice (DOJ) yesterday confirmed that the deadline for the sim registration be moved to July 25, 2023—a 90-day extension.
Aside from the extension, the Supreme Court has also rejected a plea to stop the implementation of the law, adding that the respondents should instead defend why the law is not unconstitutional.
July 25 Extension
The extension was announced by DOJ Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla after a sectoral meeting chaired by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., where the SIM card registration extension was determined.
However, though the extension will allow those who still have not complied, the Justice Secretary noted that those who fail to register within this period will have “most” of their mobile services “cut off”:
“Most of the services will be cut off with the telcos. So, there will be a social media unavailability for those who do not register in the next 90 days.”
The 90-day extension will also be the “final extension” for SIM card registration, according to National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) Deputy Commissioner Jon Paulo Salvahan, who was also present at the said meeting.
“Based on the [Cabinet] discussion po, hindi na po. That will be the final extension po, ‘yung 90-day period po na extension. By giving them this 90-day period of extension, they will be able to secure those necessary IDs and address all other concerns, like ‘yung they are not really that tech-savvy or literate in registering. So ito po, may chance po sila to address these issues,” Salvahan emphasized.
Before Remulla’s confirmation, lawmakers had already expressed their disagreement with the registration’s extension.
“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,” Senate Minority Leader Koko Pimentel stated.
While for Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, the SIM registration would never hit 100% and that “it is natural that the number of prepaid SIM cards will go down because people are already foregoing ownership of multiple prepaid SIM cards”.
Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, on the other hand, questioned the existence of a deadline:
“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.”
But for Senator Grace Poe, who also chairs the Senate Committee on Public Services, the extension will help Filipinos with unregistered SIMs prepare the documents needed to register and find answers to their concerns regarding the law.
“It should be emphasized that SIMs will still be available in local retailers and sari-sari stores even past the SIM Registration deadline. Users will simply be required to register first before they can activate their new SIMs,” Poe explained.
Along with the extension, the Supreme Court has denied the request of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, Inc. and other petitioners to issue a temporary restraining order to stop implementing the SIM Card Registration Act.
However, the SC instead said that the government agencies and telecom companies involved should comment on the petition seeking to declare the SIM Registration Act unconstitutional.
The government agencies and telecom companies are the NTC, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), the National Privacy Commission, the Departments of Trade and Industry, and the Interior and Local Government, and Education, Globe Telecom Inc., Smart Communications, Inc., PLDT Inc., Dito Telecommunity Corporation, and Digitel Mobile Philippines, doing business as Sun Cellular and Cherry Mobile Communications Inc.
They were given 10 days to submit their comments.
The Sim Card Registration Act
On October 10, 2022, the President signed the SIM Card Registration Act into law. The law mandates Filipinos to register their SIM cards, providing any government-issued identification, to combat fraudulent activities and reduce the prevalence of text scams.
The SIM owners were given 180 days from the effective date of the law to register their numbers, which happened to be tomorrow, April 26, 2023.
About a week ago, the DICT encouraged Filipinos to comply with the deadline, as it will not be extended.
But after the extension was announced, DICT Secretary Ivan Uy insisted that the low SIM card registration turnout was because of Filipino’s mañana habit, or doing the task at the last minute of the deadline.
“Kung nag-announce ng extension nang napaaga, hindi tayo aabot ng quota natin. Clearly, matitigas lang ang ulo ng ating mga kababayan. They’re hoping for an extension kaya we had to adopt a stronger stance against these extensions.”
This article is published on BitPinas: SIM Registration Updates: PBBM OKs Extension, SC Denies Request to Issue TRO, Top Officials Give View
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