Poe makes final push for SIM listup as deadline nears

by Apr 24, 2023Featured Article, News

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Grace Poe issued last-minute appeals to mobile phone subscribers to enlist their subscriber identity module (SIM) cards and to telecommunication firms and state agencies to ratchet up the list-up effort three days before the April 26 deadline.

“We urge the public to give the SIM registration law one final push as the deadline to register approaches,” the senator said in a statement on Sunday.

“Let’s spread the word that all must enlist their SIM for their protection and peace of mind,” she said.

The senator rejected calls to extend the deadline despite the request of major telcos.

Some 95 million users have yet to register their SIM cards, according to the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), prompting telcos Smart Communications Inc., Globe Telecom Inc. and DITO Telecommunity Corp. to seek an extension.

The firms cited a number of obstacles faced by many mobile phone users, including lack of required identification cards and digital challenges, such as poor or no internet connectivity.

But the DICT rejected the three firms’ appeal.

Poe, the chair of the Senate public services committee, said the DICT should instead work with all telecom providers in encouraging mobile phone users to register their SIM cards.

“This should be matched with a fortified infrastructure to handle the gush of transactions from those who will sign up their SIM,” she said.

“We reiterate that systems are in place to secure our information and protect our data,” she added.

Appeal for extension

All unregistered SIM cards shall be deactivated as mandated under Republic Act No. 11934, or the SIM Registration Act, which Congress passed to counter the rise of internet fraud and similar crimes in the country.

But Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr., one of the authors of the SIM registration law, joined the telcos in appealing to the DICT for at least a month’s extension of the deadline for SIM registration.

The House member reminded the DICT that its refusal to extend the four-month registration period would mean automatic deactivation of the phones of those who failed to beat the deadline.

“This is an 11th-hour appeal to the DICT to stretch the SIM registration period by a month or two to avoid shutting out from digital and financial inclusion the legion of Filipinos who legitimately own possibly most of the 100 million-plus still-unregistered SIMs at this point,” Villafuerte said.

He warned that this might lead to “disenfranchisement” of mobile phone users, “thereby dealing a severe blow to the Marcos administration’s efforts to fast-track our country’s digital transformation.”

Users or owners of deactivated SIM cards would not be able to make or receive calls, send or receive text messages, and access mobile applications and digital wallets.


Fix hitches

Villafuerte said extending the deadline by one or two months would “give the DICT, National Telecommunications Commission and public telecommunications entities time to further intensify their list-up drives from hereon.

It would also allow the government to fix hitches such as “stringent identification requirements, weak or no connectivity and other digital challenges believed [to be] behind the low registry turnout,” he said.

Villafuerte said other countries like Indonesia and India gave their telcos one to two years for SIM registration.