Press Release
September 14, 2021

Grace Poe's sponsorship speech transcript
on sim card registration bill (CRN 306, SBN 2395)

Sept. 14, 2021

It is my honor to rise in sponsorship of a measure that aims to address the proliferation of subscriber identity module (SIM) card-aided fraud in the country especially during the pandemic.

We have all heard of crimes perpetrated through SIM cards. Criminals have taken advantage of our lax system to freely carry out despicable schemes and evade the long arm of the law.

Batay mismo sa 2019 National ICT Household Survey ng Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), out of 32,915 respondents all over the country, 6,840 individuals have been victimized by text scams by unregistered mobile numbers. Kung susumahin, isa sa limang tao ang nabibiktima gamit ang 'di rehistradong SIM cards sa Pilipinas.

We need not look further if we want to cite a concrete example of a SIM card-aided fraud. One of our dear colleagues in the Senate, Sen. Win Gatchalian himself, has fallen prey to the wicked schemes of these criminals. Gamit lamang ang unregistered SIM card, naisakatuparan ng mga kawatan ang kagustuhan nilang makapanlamang o makapanloko ng kapwa.

Unregistered SIM cards can also be used to facilitate other and more heinous crimes such as terrorism, cyberbank heists; the proliferation of unsolicited, indecent or obscene messages; and the dissemination of a massive disinformation campaign which could cause chaos and disorder among the public.

Mr. President, dear colleagues: That these crimes are flourishing under the current system proves that the system is flawed and needs to be changed.

We are not alone in wanting this kind of policy. Globally, the trend skews heavily in favor of SIM card registration. A total of 155 countries in the world have adopted laws that require the mandatory registration of SIM cards--including nations with the highest regard for data privacy rights such as Japan, South Korea, Australia, and most countries in the European Union.

To address this in our legal system, this bill will be requiring all public telecommunications entities to make the registration of all SIM cards a prerequisite to their sale.

Dahil sa polisiyang ito, hindi lamang mapapadali ang trabaho ng mga awtoridad sa pagtukoy ng mga salarin sa mga krimen na ginagamitan ng 'di rehistradong SIM card; magiging balakid din ito upang mapigilan ang paglipana nila.

Each buyer must submit a duly electronically accomplished registration form and present a valid government-issued identification card (ID) or other similar forms of documents. Anyone who fails to comply with the requirements shall be refused the sale of a SIM card. No valid ID, no SIM card.

Ang mga kasalukuyang SIM card na ginagamit--mapa-prepaid o postpaid man--ay kinakailangan ring mairehistro sa loob ng 30 araw mula sa next credit reload upang hindi ito awtomatikong ma-deactivate ng telco.

All registration shall be forwarded by the telco to a centralized database accessible by the National Telecommunications Commission and DICT. Any information obtained in the process shall be treated as absolutely confidential, in accordance with the provisions of the Data Privacy Act of 2012.

The privacy of consumers shall continue to be given the highest regard. Ang mga impormasyong makakalap ay maaari lamang makuha ng mga awtoridad sa utos ng isang korte. It will only be given upon finding of probable cause that a specific mobile number was or is being used in the commission of a crime, or that it was utilized as a means to commit a malicious, fraudulent or unlawful act.

Inilagay natin ang proteksyong ito upang maiwasan ang abuso sa paggamit ng impormasyong nakakalap.

Further, the measure provides penalties not only for failure to comply with the registration requirement and breach of confidentiality, but also for using fictitious identities to register SIM cards, spoofing and the unauthorized sale of registered SIM cards.

Finally, the bill makes clear that any doubt in the interpretation of any of its provisions and its implementing rules and regulations shall be construed in a manner that accords the highest respect for privacy, and liberally interpreted in a manner mindful of the rights and interests of SIM card subscribers.

This bill is not the be-all and end-all in our fight against any form of digital crime. It is only one of the measures that we need to put in place as Filipinos increasingly turn to digital banking and payment channels. This is why this Representation has also filed another bill regulating bank accounts, e-wallets and other financial accounts or Senate Bill No. 2380. As proposed by the Bankers Association of the Philippines, the rise in bank fraud may be better addressed by following the money trail. The bill that I filed seeks to penalize money mules--or those who electronically receive, acquire, or transfer money or proceeds derived from a cybercrime.

Our reliance on our mobile phones for various financial and personal transactions requires legislators to ensure that digital connectivity is safe for all users.

Mr. President, fellow senators, it is, thus, my honor to endorse to this chamber for deliberation, Senate Bill No. 2395, under Committee Report No. 306.

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