NTC-6 urges mobile users to register SIM cards

By John Noel E. Herrera

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC)-6 urged mobile phone users in the region to register their Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards starting Dec. 27, 2022.

NTC-6 officer-in-charge (OIC) regional director Engr. Leah Dela Cruz-Doromal said that persons who fail to register their SIM cards will face contact deactivation as stated in the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for Republic Act (RA) No. 11934 or the SIM Registration Act which was released on Dec 12.

NTC-6 also explained that if there are still many unregistered subscribers once the 180-day registration period is finished, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) might give an extension of another 120 days.

Doromal noted that as a last chance for subscribers, the NTC and DICT will also give a five-day grace period before the permanent deactivation.

“Yes, ma-automatic sila deactivate. But may chance pa nga ma-activate within five days. So, dapat magpa-reactivate sila within five days paagi sa pagpa-register,” Doromal said.

Doromal emphasized that it is important for subscribers to register their SIM cards to avoid spam and scam text messages, which are rampant nowadays.

“Maayo gid nga mapa-register ang SIM card kay makaiwas kita sa mga scam nga nagakatabo subong sa aton nga kadamo-damo na, and one is for the protection or for our safety also,” she said.

Doromal also said that Public Telecommunications Entities or PTEs such as Globe, Dito, and Smart will provide online platforms or links where subscribers can register.

She added that the platform must be user-friendly and accessible to all users for an easy registration process.

NTC-6 also noted that PTEs are mandated to require users to present valid IDs with a photo when acquiring SIM cards.

Valid documents that may be presented for SIM registration include Philippine Identification, Passport, Social Security Service (SSS) ID, Government Service Insurance System e-Card, Driver’s License, Police Clearance, NBI Clearance, PRC ID, BIR ID, Voter’s ID, among others.

Corporations are also required to present their certificate of registration and the duly-adopted resolution designating their duly-authorized representative, and special power of attorney for SIM card registration of other juridical entities.

PTEs that will refuse to register a SIM without a valid reason will be fined, ranging from P100,000 to P1 million, while for breach of confidentiality, the PTEs, their employees, or agents will be fined from P500,000 to P4 million.

Doromal added that there is no limitation as to how many SIM cards a user will use, as long as all of them are registered.

“Wala kita limitasyon kon pila man ang SIM card nga gina-uyatan sang individual, importante makapa-rehistro gid sang tanan nga SIM,” she said.

Meanwhile, some telecommunication companies also welcomed the signing of the law as they were already preparing for the process of SIM card registration.

Globe Telecom earlier said that it will launch its online SIM registration platform for its around 87.9 million subscribers, and will start selling new SIMs in deactivated mode as these new SIMs must be registered first before the subscriber can use them while existing SIMs should be registered within 180 days or six months from the effectivity of the law.

Smart Communications also commended the signing of the measure but called for more time as they prepare for the mandatory registration, citing that it would not just impact them, but millions of Filipinos and retailers as well.

DITO noted that the challenge now is with the validation of the subscribers’ identity, citing the importance of the National ID system while they prepare for the registration process of their subscribers.

Some groups, on the other hand, condemned the signing of the law, saying that it puts people’s right to privacy and data protection at risk.

“The signed SIM Registration Law poses problems for privacy rights as the Philippine government is notorious for illegal surveillance and violations of data privacy and the law can become a vast surveillance network against the people,” Bagong Alyansang Makabayan said.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) also said that the law is not the right solution to minimize or stop crimes involving the use of cellular phones.

The group added that the law could impede journalists’ jobs and put them at risk as it might be used for mass surveillance, which is already happening in other countries where communications are being monitored.

It is noted that RA No. 11934 was signed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on October 10, 2022, which was also the first law signed under the new administration.

The measure also aims to help law enforcement authorities “track perpetrators of crimes committed through phones” and become an effective means of regulating the issuance of SIM cards to curb the spread of spam and scam text messages.

An earlier version of the law was passed by the 18th Congress but was vetoed by former President Rodrigo Duterte, citing the proposed registration of social media accounts as contrary to constitutional and statutory laws on privacy.