Poe, Gatchalian urge gov’t to expedite rollout of nat’l ID to fight SIM registration loopholes

Some senators are now looking into the possibility of limiting the number of valid official identification cards that would be accepted in the registration of subscriber identity modules (SIM). 


Sen. Grace Poe, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Public Services, said the government should expedite the National Identification Card (National ID) system so that this can effectively deter the proliferation of fake users of registered SIM cards.


Poe noted that ideally, a national ID should suffice for the SIM registration system. But during the crafting of the SIM Registration Act, many sectors appealed to make it easier for people to register their SIMs since not all carry an official ID or valid document.


Among the official IDs that are accepted in registering SIMs include passport, national ID, Social Security System (SSS), Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) e-card, driver’s license, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) clearance, police clearance, and other documents like firearms license IDs.


“That’s why, one of the things we have been pushing since is for the government to fast track the national ID system and afterwards, use this to make the SIM registration stricter, so one cannot just use any ID just to register,” Poe said in an interview on Radio DZBB on Sunday, September 17.


“Supposedly, a national ID alone is enough, you don’t need to present two (valid IDs). But we can amend the law to indicate and specify at any two valid IDs,” she said.


“But we cannot do that now, because until today, the government has yet to finish printing the national IDs,” the senator lamented. 


Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian noted that as of the moment there are 17 IDs that can be used to submit for the SIM registration. 


But Gatchalian said, he too, would prefer using the national ID alone for the SIM registration as it is supposed to be difficult to copy and features a person’s biometrics.


“Not all the IDs specified under the law features biometrics. The national ID has biometrics, that is why I believe we can still amend and limit the number of IDs that can be used for registration,” he said. 


Due to the numerous IDs that can be presented for the SIM registration, Gatchalian lamented it is now difficult for telecommunication companies (telcos) to validate the identity of the end-user. 


“In the first place, many of our existing IDs can be faked, and telcos do not even validate the identities. That’s why even monkeys can register,” he pointed out. 


At the same time, Poe said she will study the Department of Information and Communications Technology’s (DICT) request for a P300-million confidential fund for 2024. The NTC is under the DICT. 


Poe noted that the DICT has a low utilization rate, and the agency was able to use just around 30 percent of its funds under the 2023 General Appropriations Act (GAA). 


“Their utilization rate is so law, they are not using the money alloted for them, and yet they still want more money?” she asked.


“Now if these confidential fund is truly needed and they need it to investigate these text scams further, maybe we can accommodate their request, but only the amount approved by the Commission on Audit (COA),” she stressed.