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Senator wants ban on expiry date of prepaid internet, phone load credits

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian wants Senate to tackle the bill seeking to lift the validity period of prepaid load credits for mobile phones and internet services.

In a statement on Sunday, the senator pointed out that in the COVID-19 pandemic era, people rely on modern information and communication technology (ICT) for daily survival. 

“For those with limited resources, every peso counts. Forfeiture of unused prepaid load credits due to expiration period is somehow unconscionable under the current situation,” he said.

He pointed out that the load credit expiry policy is unwarranted as subscribers should be made to consume the load credits and avail of the services they have paid for.

This policy is  “anti-consumer” because this kind of commodity depends on the subscribers’ usage and they should be given the choice on whether to make full use of the services, he said.

Thus the senator, who is Vice Chairman of the Economic Affairs Committee, called for a review of the policy imposed by public telecommunications entities (PTEs) and ICT providers.

In filing of Senate Bill No. 365 or the Prepaid Load Forever Act, he proposes to prohibit all PTEs and ICT providers from imposing an expiration date on the validity period of prepaid load credits, regardless of the amount involved, unless fully consumed.

The bill covers prepaid cards and electronic loads for services that offer voice, short messaging system (SMS) or text, mobile data, value added services (VAS) and those loaded to devices that make use of the internet such as tablets, Wi-Fi dongles or mobile hotspots.

Also, the bill seeks to impose a fine ranging from P100,000 to P2 million and  imprisonment of two to six years plus an immediate revocation of license to engage in business will be meted against those who will violate the acts covered in the bill.

Currently, prepaid load credits worth P300 have one-year validity while those with higher value have a longer expiration period. —LBG, GMA News