Gatchalian: To end online scams, PH should also mandate SIM card registration

Published May 26, 2021, 9:43 AM

by Hannah Torregoza 

The Philippines should join the growing list of countries mandating the registration of pre-paid subscriber identity module (SIM) cards to put an end to the prevalence of deceptive modus and online scams, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said on Wednesday.

“Hangga’t walang batas na magpaparusa sa mga kawatan, hindi matatapos ang pambibiktima sa mga gumagawa ng trabaho nila nang marangal at umaasang may maiuuwi sa kanilang pamilya (Until we have not law that would prosecute such thieves, there would be no end to the number of victims who fall prey to such scams despite the fact they are just doing their jobs and are hopeful of bringing something back to their families),” Gatchalian said.

The senator said that as of March 2020, there are already 155 countries that require proof of identity of a person purchasing via a SIM card, citing data from a UK-based Privacy International.

The vice-chairman of the Senate Economic Affairs Committee recalled the series of incidents involving scams committed on food delivery riders through online orders or bookings.

Recent reports showed that five riders were duped to taking different orders via Foodpanda, a mobile delivery app, for the same address in Quezon City only to find out it is an abandoned place. Several other incidents have been posted through various social media accounts.

Last year, at least 10 riders were fooled to deliver food amounting to P20,000 to a subdivision resident in Las Piñas City who claimed to have not placed any order through a food delivery app.

“Kung may tamang pagkakakilanlan ang taong nagpadeliver gamit ang delivery app, hindi magiging madali ang makapangloko sa mga food riders at maiiwasan ang mga ganitong klase ng insidente (If there is proper identification of the person who booked through a delivery app, it would not be easy to scam food riders and we can prevent this kind of incident),” he said.

“Nakapanlulumo na sa gitna ng pandemya ay may mga taong nagagawa pang makapanlamang sa mga tinatawag nating essential workers sa mga panahong ito (It’s disheartening that in the midst of a pandemic, there are people who are still taking advantage of our essential workers at a time like this)” the senator lamented.

Gatchalian has been calling on the Senate to expedite the passage of Senate Bill No. 176, or the proposed SIM Card Registration Act, which he filed in July 2019.

The lawmaker said foremost of his concern is to address the nefarious and illegal activities such as text scams; ransom demands through untraceable mobile numbers, and bombing incidents when mobile phones with pre-paid SIM cards are often used as triggering devices.

Under the measure, prepaid SIM Card holders would be required to present a valid ID and photo and sign a control-numbered registration form issued by the service provider of the purchased SIM Card.

Copies of these registration forms would then be submitted to the same service provider and the National Telecommunications Commission for documentation purposes.