LGUs urged: Enforce SIM Card registration among constitutents

LGUs urged: Enforce SIM Card registration among constitutents
Subscriber identity module (SIM) cards.
The STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of the Interior and Local Government urged all local government units to raise awareness in their localities on the newly-enacted SIM Card Registration Act and prod their constituents to register their SIM cards starting December 27.

In a statement sent to reporters, DILG Secretary Benhur Abalos, Jr. said that with millions of Filipino mobile subscribers, an intensive information drive must be carried out at the grassroots level and LGUs should step up in educating the public on the requirements and importance of the law.

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. signed in October Republic Act 11934, which aims to regulate the registration and use of SIMs by mandating all end-users to register their SIMs with their respective telecommunications networks before their activation. The government said the move could help curb scams and other crimes. Critics of the measure, however, said this could lead to data breaches and privacy violations.

“As we seek to ensure public safety even in the online space, I encourage LGUs to exert all efforts to promote responsible use of SIM cards, educate their stakeholders on the benefits of mandatory SIM card registration and guide them through the whole registration process,” Abalos said.

He added that the SIM Registration Act would aid the Philippine National Police and other law enforcement authorities in curbing rising electronic communication-aided criminal activities in the Philippines such as mobile phishing, text spams, online scams, bank frauds and identity theft.

Abalos said the implementation of the law will not only prompt accountability from mobile users, telcos and the government but can also help the PNP to quickly locate offenders of crimes committed in anonymity through the use of electronic devices “as this will help combat cybercrimes in the country.”

Section 4 of the IRR of the SIM Registration Act released by the National Telecommunications Commission provides that DILG and other government agencies such as Department of Information and Communications Technology, National Telecommunications Commission, Department of Education and telecom companies shall “facilitate all SIM registrations in remote areas with limited telecommunication or internet access.”

“Together with the LGUs, DILG will cooperate with DICT and the NCT to fast-track the establishment of registration facilities in geographically-isolated areas, which should be done within 60 days after December 27,” Abalos said.

He enlisted the assistance of local chief executives and barangay captains in remote areas in processing needed documents and other requirements to set up the registration centers. “We know not everyone has access to the internet and other means of communication so let us reach out to them and inform them of this new law,” he said.

How does registering work?

To register, all existing SIM subscribers must submit an accomplished form through a database platform or website provided by the telco company within 180 days. The DICT can extend the registration period for another 120 days. If a subscriber fails to register, SIM cards will be deactivated.

Subscribers must provide the following: full name, birthday, sex, address, mobile SIM number and serial number and valid identification cards (for individuals);  business name, business address and full name of authorized signatory (for businesses and other juridical entities); full name, nationality, birthday, passport, proof of Philippine address, return ticket to own country (for foreigners and tourists).

The DILG chief also warned against attempts to provide false or fictitious information and documents to register a SIM and those who will try to spoof a registered SIM to defraud or cause harm.

Registering a SIM card with false or fictitious information or using fictitious identities will be subject to a penalty of imprisonment of six months to two years and a fine of P100,000 to P300,000 while spoofing will be subject to a six years jail time or/and a fine of P200,000.

Abalos also urged parents and guardians to register the SIM used by their minor children or relatives under their name to protect them from scams online. They will be asked to present an ID and consent form.

“To our parents and guardians, let us help each other in this endeavor to safeguard minors. Let's work together to make sure they don't fall victim to online scams,” he said.

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