Press Release
February 8, 2006


Senator Manny Villar, President of the Nacionalista Party, is reopening the inquiry of his Senate Committee on Public Order and Illegal Drugs regarding the prevalence of cellular phone theft in the country tomorrow (Thursday) at 1:30pm at the Senate.

To recall, Villar filed Senate Resolution 99 directing the Senate Committees on Public Order and Illegal Drugs and Trade and Commerce to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation on the proliferation of cellular phone theft, most of which are reported to find its way back in shopping centers, with the end view of recommending measures as may be necessary to protect the citizens from cellular phone theft and protect the consumers from substandard products.

There is no question about it, cellphone theft is really getting out of control, stricter measures and penalties must be put in place. Cellphones have become the hottest items in the eyes of snatchers and robbers. We are already surprised at the statistics and to think a huge number of cellphone theft cases go unreported, cites Villar.

Based on police records, cellphone theft already accounts for over one-third of robbery cases nationwide. Moreover, cellphone crimes are not simple cases of theft and robbery anymore since in increasing number of cases, the victims were hurt or even killed in the process.

In the previous public hearings of Villars committee last year, the focus was on the tragic death of Today assistant business editor Jose Villanueva. Last month, a member of prominent clan, 19-year-old Zachary Escudero was shot dead in a phone-snatching incident. The parents of the two victims will attend the Senate hearing.

Among others, Villar proposes the criminalization of the altering or tampering of International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) and the imposition of tighter regulatory measures in the sale of second-hand cellphones.

Even the IMEI marking, put into place by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), did not deter cellphone thieves since there are many electronic technicians around who know how to unblock a blocked cellphone unit, which are then sold as used or reconditioned cellphones.

Expected to attend in tomorrows hearing are the following: Police Dir. Gen. Arturo Lomibao, Chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP); Ronald Solis, NTC Commissioner; Atty. Rogelio Quevedo, Group Legal Head of Smart Communications; Atty. Rodolfo Salalima, Senior Vice President of Globe Communications; Gideon Javier, telecommunications expert; Jun Lozada, Executive Director & Founder of Organisasyon ng mga Galit sa Magnanakaw (OGSM); Bro. Armin Luistro FSC, President of De La Salle University; Sis. Angelica Leviste OSB, President of St. Scholasticas College; Rolly Torio, Asst. Dean of I Academy; Dante Jimenez, Chairman of Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC); Manuel Ignacio Escudero, father of Zachary Escudero; and Luis Villanueva, father of Jose Luis Villanueva.

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