Poe shuns call to suspend online SIM registration: 'Problem is enforcement'

Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 15 2023 03:21 PM | Updated as of Sep 15 2023 04:05 PM

Screenshot from the Senate Committee on Public Services hearing on September 5, 2023.
Screenshot from the Senate Committee on Public Services hearing on September 5, 2023.

MANILA — Sen. Grace Poe on Friday defended the law mandating SIM registration in the country as she opposed calls to hold in-person verification instead of online following the discovery of some loopholes.

"Stopping online registration at this point is a cop out to a problem that can be solved by better implementation of a well-intentioned law," Poe said in a statement.

The senator, who authored the SIM Registration Act, was reacting to the plea of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) to suspend online SIM registration and instead hold manual verification. 

The suggestion was made after they discovered how easily anyone can register a SIM, even by using fake identities, with non-human photos. 

But Poe said the law had enough teeth and the problem was how it was being implemented by government agencies and telcos.

"The law has enough teeth against fraudsters as well as safeguards to privacy of our people... Concerned agencies and telcos must be able to plug the loopholes in their effective implementation without halting registration," she said.

"Nasa gobyerno ang responsibilidad para mapabuti ang sistema," she added.

Earlier, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) bared that it successfully activated a SIM using a fake government ID with a photo of a monkey.

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) said individuals who entered false details during SIM registration would face penalties, including imprisonment. 

To address these concerns, NTC said the IRR would be updated and the law could be amended. 

The government said that SIM registration would curb text scams, as the identities of people who use SIMs for illegal activities could be traced.