Press Release
August 10, 2007


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Nene" Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today batted for the immediate enactment of a law that will prohibit telecommunications companies from sending unsolicited materials like commercial ads and contests to cellphone subscribers via text or short message service (SMS).

Pimentel echoed the common complaint of cellphone users that telecommunication network companies indiscriminately send these unsolicited materials to both post-paid and pre-paid accounts, including subscribers who are minors, resulting in an increase of their phone bills or rapid consumption of their pre-paid call credit.

As competition among cellphone companies gets fierce, Pimentel observed that they have started to look into their existing customers as a renewable market through gimmicks, subscriptions and contests by increasing their availment of cellphone services.

"More often than not, unknowing customers have been victimized by such offerings sent by cellphone companies via text or short message service, only to realize later that such contests and subscriptions have jacked up their monthly bills or consumed all of their pre-paid credit," he said.

The opposition senator pointed out that cellphone services, including text or SMS, are paid for by all subscribers and unlike free services, therefore, there is no justification for such unsolicited materials.

"The bill seeks to regulate these indiscriminate offerings by prohibiting any matter sent by network companies via text or SMS which are not solicited by the subscriber," Pimentel said in his explanatory note to Senate Bill 1138.

He noted that unlike before when only businessmen and executives used cellular and mobile telephones, today cellular phone technology has overrun the mainstream that practically everyone including drivers, students and other blue collar workers use the cellphone on a daily basis.

Pimentel said telecom companies have resorted to the schemes or gimmicks as post-paid plans get more attractive and pre-paid cards get smaller in denomination with the market for cellular phones nearing saturation, especially in Metro Manila.

Under Senate Bill 1138, network companies are prohibited from sending unsolicited materials such as advertisements, offerings, promotions, subscriptions and other notifications to their subscribers via text or SMS. The only exception is legitimate notifications of past due accounts.

Cellphone network firms found to have violated this prohibition will be punished with a fine of P20,000 to P100,000 per violation.

Any director, officer or employee found to have authorized or otherwise permitted the prohibited act shall likewise be fined P1,000 for the first offense; P2,000 for the second offense and P3,000 for the third offense. For the fourth and subsequent offense, the violator shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of not less than one month.

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