Congress has approved proposed bills making mobile phone SIM card registration mandatory.
Both the House and the Senate ratified the bicameral conference committee reports of the proposal, paving the way for consolidation of the House and Senate versions of the bills that can now be sent to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for signature.
“This may be the first of the many legislative measures that will be signed and enacted into law by President Marcos, Jr. in his six years of office,” Speaker Martin Romualdez said in a press release.
“This Act will not only help promote responsibility in the end users of SIMs for electronic devices but also provide our law enforcers the necessary tools to resolve crimes involving telecommunication devices,” Romualdez said.
Romualdez is the main author of the SIM Registration Act approved by the House (House Bill No. 14), with Reps. Ferdinand Alexander "Sandro" A. Marcos and Tingog party-list Reps. Yedda Marie K. Romualdez and Jude Acidre as co-authors.
For Romualdez, the expeditious approval of the bill by the House and the Senate bicameral panel is the product of a new coordinating mechanism that he and Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri helped create in partnership with PLLO Secretary, Mark Leandro “Dong” Mendoza.
“This bill no longer contains the controversial provision that orders the mandatory registration of social media accounts,” Romualdez pointed out.
According to a press release from the House under the bill, all SIM sold are in a deactivated state, and end-users are required to register their SIMs with the concerned Public Telecommunication Entity (PTE) as a pre-requisite to activation. On the other hand, all existing SIM subscribers are required to register with their respective PTEs within 180 days from the effectivity of the law. But the bill allows the DICT to extend the registration for a period not exceeding 120 days.
"Failure to register the SIM within the prescribed period will result in automatic deactivation and may only be reactivated after it is registered in compliance with the requirements of the law. Under the measure, a SIM owner is required to submit a duly accomplished control-numbered registration form containing his full name, date of birth, sex, and address for registration. The registration process also requires the input of the assigned number of the SIM with its serial number," the press release said.
It also added that among the valid documents that may be presented for purposes of SIM registration include the following: passport, Philippine Identification, Social Security Service ID, Government Service Insurance System e-Card, driver’s license, National Bureau of Investigation clearance, police clearance, Firearms’ License to Own and Possess ID, Professional Regulation Commission ID, Integrated Bar of the Philippines ID, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration ID, Bureau of Internal Revenue ID, voter’s ID, senior citizen’s card, Unified Multi-purpose Identification Card, Person with Disabilities card, or other government-issued ID with photo.
Corporations meanwhile are required to present their certificate of registration as well as the duly-adopted resolution designating their duly-authorized representative, and special power of attorney for the registration of SIM of other juridical entities.
"A SIM may be registered for the use of a minor but it shall be under the name of his parent or guardian who gave their consent and registered the same. End-users who are foreign nationals are required to register their name, nationality, passport number, and address in the Philippines," it said.
"In the case of tourists, they are also required to present their passport, proof of address in the Philippines, and return ticket to their own country or any other ticket showing the date and time of their departure from the Philippines. Their registered SIM will only be valid for 30 days and shall be automatically deactivated upon expiration of validity," it added.
The press release said the measure penalized certain violations of the SIM Registration Act, such as failure or refusal to register a SIM, breach of confidentiality, using fictitious identities or fraudulent identification documents to register a SIM, spoofing a registered SIM, sale of stolen SIM, and sale or transfer of a registered SIM without complying with required registration.
"PTEs who fail or refuse to register a SIM without a valid reason will suffer a graduated fine for the first and subsequent offenses, ranging from P100,000 up to P1 million. For breach of confidentiality, PTEs, their agents, or employees face a fine from P500,000 to P4 million."
"Anyone who provides false information or fraudulent IDs to register a SIM, spoofs a registered SIM, or sells a stolen SIM faces the penalty of imprisonment ranging from six months to two years and a fine of up to P300,000.The proposed law also imposes the penalty of imprisonment and fines for the sale or transfer of a registered SIM without compliance with the required registration," the press release said.
The bill was refiled after being vetoed during the past administration.