5,410 guests

If you’re a law-abiding citizen, join clamor to register prepaid sim cards

  • Written by Alfred Dalizon
  • Published in Opinion
  • Read: 219

Crame files

I’M issuing this challenge anew to all law-abiding Filipinos in the wake of the need for all citizens to register prepaid Subscriber Identity Module or SIM cards for mobile phones upon purchase to prevent the possibility they could be used in criminality and terrorism.

* * *

In the wake of the ongoing massive crackdown against crime specifically drugs and terrorism in the country, this corner is fully behind proposals by lawmakers like Senators Tito Sotto and Ping Lacson to require the registration of SIM cards, one of them obviously used in the terror bombing in Davao City which killed 14 innocent people and wounded 65 others last September 2.

* * *

I pray and hope that ‘hawks’ in Congress will join hands in crafting a law which will genuinely help the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces go after enemies of the state without suppressing civil rights.  As I have mentioned in a previous column, the idea was first made by then PNP chief General Ping Lacson in 1999 to stop every Tom, Dick and Harry from buying  SIM cards in the market and using them in illegal activities like kidnapping, extortion and various frauds and worst, terrorism.

* * *

I read the other day that Sen. Sotto, for the third time has filed a bill ‘to neutralize cell phone-aided crimes’ by requiring all telecommunication firms to undertake ownership registration for each prepaid SIM purchase. I learned that Sotto’s measure was defeated twice in Congress due to the resistance, the massive ‘lobbying’ of telecommunication companies which have been citing the right of the public to telecommunicate or freely use mobile devices.

* * *
   
The good senator is proposing individuals to present an ID when purchasing a prepaid SIM card. This is aimed at easy tracing the owner of the SIM card in case it is used in the commission of a crime particularly bombings, kidnappings, car theft, drugs and different frauds. I agree with Sen. Sotto that the bill is urgent since it will allow the authorities to trace SIM cards used in bombings, terrorism, blackmail, kidnapping, drug trafficking, bomb hoax, cybercrimes and other criminal activities.

* * *
   
I also agree that if telecommunication companies are really serious in helping the Duterte government fight crime and terrorism, they should allow the registration of pre-paid cards and not oppose the passage of the bill which will also require all SIM buyers to present valid identification cards and most importantly, proof of billing. This information in turn could be used to build databases of SIM holders which can help investigators unmask  an individual involved in crime or terrorism in case he used the SIM card. As many have been saying, which should take precedence—the people’s right to “telecommunicate” or their right to protection of their lives?

* * *

ARE CORPUS AND BALUTAN THE REAL ANTIDOTE TO CORRUPTION IN PCSO?

AS many of my friends in the police and the military have whispered to me a few weeks ago, President Duterte finally has appointed retired PNP Director Jose Jorge Corpus of PMA Class 1982 and Marine Major General Alexander Balutan of PMA Class 1983 as the new chairman and general manager of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, respectively.

* * *
   
Corpus is a former Police Regional Office 11 deputy regional director for administration in Southern Mindanao who, a few years ago, was rumored all set to become the Southern Police District director. However, the buzz in Camp Crame is that Corpus failed to get the top SPD post after former DILG chief-turned-losing Liberal Party presidential candidate Mar Roxas blocked his designation due to his affiliation with former Vice President Jojo Binay.

* * *
   
His appointment as PCSO chairman means he is trusted by President Duterte, a leader who would not believe Corpus’ connections with former VP Binay, I would say.  The president said he wanted a “killer” to head the supposedly corrupt agency but this early, I would say Corpus, a former head of the PNP Directorate for Integrated Police Operations-Southern Luzon who retired on November 2 last year, will not kill any corrupt PCSO men. I think PCSO men will be dealing with a retired general known for his discipline, an official who acts like a drill sergeant even when he’s talking with the press.

* * *
   
On the other hand, what happened to Balutan, the Marine officer who testified against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo? The Marine general last July expressed readiness to take over the graft-ridden Bureau of Corrections and even said he will send Marines to the New Bilibid Prisons to restore order in the prison compound ruled by drug lords and their fiends.

* * *
   
Balutan, previous reports said will replace retired Army General Rainier Cruz as BuCor director last August 1 with Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre even describing his integrity as ‘unquestionable.’ “General Balutan’s integrity is unquestionable. Matibay ang loob, firm in his commitment to rid BuCor of illegal drugs and corruption, and he’s a good manager,” Aguirre said.

* * *
   
The Marine general best remembered for testifying at the Senate about election fraud in the 2004 presidential elections when he was still a colonel in Central Mindanao, even gave a number of interviews on what he plans to do in BuCor and even said he will retire from the Armed Forces upon his assumption as head of the prisons bureau.

* * *
   
Then Col. Balutan defied a Malacañang gag order and was charged in a military court for it. He was put in the ‘freezer’ but got another lease in life during the Aquino administration. He got controversial again when, at the height of the pork barrel scam that nearly crippled the Aquino administration, he posted on Facebook that the misuse of lawmakers’ pork barrel is the root of the rebellion in Mindanao. The glaring question now is why he chose PCSO over BuCor?