MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Tuesday expressed its support to proposed SIM Card Registration Act that required the registration of prepaid mobile phone SIM cards which may preempt and combat kidnappings and other crimes associated with mobile phones.
“According to NTC (National Telecommunications Commission) commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba, it is preferable that a law be passed requiring SIM card registration,” Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., said in a press conference in Malacañang.
“The Executive branch has manifested support for proposed bills that are now being discussed in Congress,” he added.
The bombing that occurred in Cagayan de Oro in 2013 was also mentioned, wherein perpetrators fabricated an improvised bomb out of mortar shell and used a mobile phone with a prepaid SIM card as trigger. Eight were killed and 40 others were injured in the incident.
The need for the measure was restated by founding chairperson of anti-crime organization Movement for Restoration of Peace and Order (MRPO) Teresita Ang-See when she gave evidence at a Senate hearing on Tuesday afternoon.
“As many as 30 prepaid SIM cards are used by kidnap-for-ransom groups to communicate with families of the victims,” Ms. See said in the hearing.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) also supported the proposed bill that sought to regulate mobile communication through the registration of prepaid SIM cards.
A legal opinion issued by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said, she sees nothing wrong with the enactment of the proposal, as it will ensure the protection and wellbeing of the public.
According to the DOJ chief, the measure would help law enforcers and police track down criminals who would make use of mobile phones in kidnapping or bombing.
Meanwhile, Tonyo Cruz, president of Txt Power, said that the proposal will take only “one rogue SIM card — perhaps stolen, on roaming, or cloned — [to] render the proposal ineffective. It would spawn new crimes like the theft and black market. It is doubtful that criminals are shaking in their boots due to this.”
There was already an existing NTC circular that required the registration of prepaid SIM cards but the Supreme Court favored telecommunications companies and issued a temporary restraining order against the directive.
Last year, Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said Malacañang still needs time to cautiously study such proposals, in case they infringe citizens’ constitutional right to privacy. Now, the Palace supports the measure despite the fact that the Supreme Court stopped the previous NTC circular.
With report from Cyra Moraleda