SENATE Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III blasted telecommunications companies for continuously blocking the passage of pre-paid sim card registration bill to help the government in fighting cirme, especially terrorism.
The telecommunications companies have been opposing the passage of the bill while the law enforcement agencies like the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Philippine National Police (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have been very supportive of the proposed measure.
Sotto has proposed the pre-paid sim card registration way back the 12th Congress as resolution and refiled it as a bill on the 16th Congress and now on the 17th Congress as Senate Bill No. 7, in his bid to neutralize cellphone aided crimes in the country.
The proposed measure requires all telecommunication companies to register their pre-paid sim cards since the modern-day criminals and terrorists have been taking advantage of the mobile phone technology.
“The benefits of having this kind of technology, however, does not always work for the betterment of the society because pre-paid sim cards are unregistered and untraceable, therefore, it can be used to carry out illegal activities,” Sotto said.
Under the Bill, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) in close coordination with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Telecommunication Companies and in consultation with major Consumer Groups with national membership shall formulate the necessary guidelines in the proper implementation of the pre-paid sim card registration process.
The Bill also stated that all mobile phone service providers shall require ownership registration as prerequisite to selling pre-paid sim cards.
The use of pre-paid sim in this country has flourished considering that this can be purchased practically anywhere by anybody without any required identification and credit background restrictions, making it very convenient to avail of cellular services in an instant.
In the Philippines, subscriber base of pre-paid sim cards grew dramatically each year reaching an estimated number of almost 100 million, which comprise about 90% of the entire cellular phone service market. This definitely makes such technology as a favored tool in the commission of crimes by both the organized and small-scale criminals alike.
It has been confirmed by investigators in the Philippine National Police in their number of reports over the recent years that perpetrators of bombings in public places in various parts of the country made use of cellular pre-paid phones to trigger bomb explosion that killed and injured many innocent victims.
Sotto pointed out that this piece of legislation primarily intends to be an effective remedial measure to mandate cellular service providers to require the registration of all prepaid cell phone subscribers by asking valid ID at purchase, and in turn start build databases and come up with profiles of these buyers the same way police detectives profile criminal suspects to easily detect criminal perpetrators.