Ranking solon prods Palace to explain SIM Card Registration Bill veto

Published April 18, 2022, 2:20 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

Tarlac 2nd district Rep. Victor Yap is seeking clarification from Malacañang as to what provisions in the SIM Card Registration Bill supposedly infringe upon the freedom of speech and the right to privacy of individuals.

(Nordwood themes/ Unsplash)

This, after the enrolled bill was vetoed by President Duterte on April 14 on such basis.

“Freedom of speech is not an absolute right. The government has the power – nay even the duty to regulate it for the common good of its citizens. There is nothing in the bill that prohibits free speech nor invade the privacy of an individual,” contended Yap in a statement Monday, April 18.

Yap chairs the House Committee on Information and Communications Technology. He is among the primary authors of the House version of the controversial measure, specifically House Bill (HB) No. 5793.

Yap implored the Office of the President to expound on its veto message wherein it struck down the consolidated and lawmaker-approved House and Senate versions of the measure.

The solon argued that the enrolled bill does not per se impede the constitutionally guaranteed rights to Freedom of Speech and Privacy as the measure merely seeks to establish accountability of persons in the digital and online space, no different to the same standard of accountability for any person’s action offline or in real life (IRL).

“What the bill requires is simply the registration of SIM card number in a person’s social media account and any person can still express their freedom of speech subject to the limitations of our existing laws,” noted Yap, a former Tarlac governor.

SIM stands for subscriber identification module. SIM cards are used to activate mobile phones and similar mobile devices.

Known as “An Act Eradicating Mobile Phone, Internet Or Electronic Communication Aided Criminal Activities, Mandating For This Purpose Ownership. Registration Of All SIM Cards For Electronic Devices And Social Media Account”, the proposed SIM Card Registration Act aims to mandate the registration of SIM cards of subscribers and social media accounts to curb and prevent criminal and illegal activities using anonymous numbers.

Likewise, the bill mandates all social media accounts to be registered with a SIM card
number such that all social media accounts are to be identified with a real and identifiable person.

Historically, requiring SIM card identity registration has been proposed as a legislative
measure since 2014, almost a decade earlier. Since then, countless malicious and nefarious activities have been reported using anonymity as cover such as SMS scams, disinformation, financial fraud, and terrorist acts, with prosecution of these increasingly challenging and seemingly close to impossible.