By Ben Rosario
After an unsuccessful bid at enacting a bill proposing the mandatory registration of Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards, the House of Representatives is making another push for its passage by taking it up early at the plenary.
The House committee on information and communication technology has approved House Bill No. 5793 which consolidated 16 separate SIM registration measures filed during the 18th Congress.
Chaired by Tarlac Rep. Victor Yap, the House panel acted swiftly to approve the bill, apparently learning its lessons from the belated approval of the measure during the 17th Congress, when the bill was passed on third and final reading but time constraints prevent its enactment into law.
Authors of the consolidated bill, among them Reps. Michael Odylon Romero and Enrico Pineda of 1PACMAN party-list, Manila Rep. Manuel Luis T. Lopez, Muntinlupa City Rep. Ruffino Biazon, and Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo, expect the bill to be reported out in the plenary when session resumes on Jan. 20.
Romero said the legislative proposal is a strong deterrent to criminality, from “petty offenses to graver crimes such as kidnapping, illegal drugs, illegal recruitment, and even murder.”
He cited the deadly 2013 bombing at the Batasang Pambansa building in Quezon City as one strong argument for the passage of the measure. In that incident a bomb planted in a motorcycle parked at the entrance of the South Wing building was detonated with the use of a telephone device.
“Further, there have been many cases in which the use of prepaid SIM cards were abused and used to commit crimes like scamming, death threats to a person, and even drug transactions like what happened in the National Bilibid Prison, which Congress investigated,” Romero said.
Romero said the legislative proposal directs all public telecommunications entity (PTE) and direct sellers to require end users of a SIM card to present a valid identification card with photo to verify identity.
Meanwhile, direct sellers are required to register information about their identities by presenting an original copy of any valid government ID with photo such as passport, national ID, digitized ID cards issued by either the Social Security System or the Government Service Insurance System, or driver’s license or professional regulations commission card, among other valid credentials.
The bill establishes a system of sale and registration of SIM Cards for all users by registering pertinent data in a form created for the purpose. Under the bill, the mandatory registration of end users shall also be applied to foreign nationals.
Pineda said the bill provides a confidentiality clause that prohibits the disclosure of any information about the subscriber unless directed by the courts.
For non- compliance with the provisions of the measure, offenders may be slapped with a fine ranging from P300,000 to P1 million. Direct sellers found guilty of failing to register their buyers face a penalty of suspension of operation and a fine of P50,000.