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Duterte vetoes proposed SIM Card Registration law

President Rodrigo Duterte has vetoed the measure seeking the mandatory registration of all SIM cards and social media accounts.

In a statement on Friday, acting presidential spokesperson Martin Andanar said Duterte believes that the proposed SIM Card Registration Act needs further study.

"The President noted that the inclusion of social media providers in the registration requirement was not part of the original version of the bill and needs a more thorough study. Prior versions only mandated the registration of SIM cards," Andanar said.

"The President similarly found that certain aspects of state intrusion, or the regulation thereof, have not been duly defined, discussed, or threshed out in the enrolled bill, with regard to social media registration," he added.

Andanar said while Duterte hails Congress' efforts to deter cybercrime incidents, he was constrained to disagree with the inclusion of social media in the measure without providing proper guidelines and definitions thereto.

Duterte believes that this may give rise to a situation of dangerous state intrusion and surveillance, threatening many constitutionally protected rights, according to Andanar.

"It is incumbent upon the Office of the President to ensure that any statute is consistent with the demands of the Constitution, such as those which guarantee individual privacy and free speech," Andanar said.

"This notwithstanding, we ask Congress not to lose heart in passing effective and strengthened measures that offer our citizens a safe and secure online environment, provided that the same would stand judicial scrutiny."

The Senate and the House of Representatives ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the bill on February 2, 2022.

Internet and information and communications technology (ICT) rights advocacy group Democracy.Net.Ph earlier urged Duterte to veto the measure, saying it offers no real solution to cybercrime and troll problems.

The group also claimed that the proposed law robs users of the "additional security that anonymity gives us, especially for celebrities, public figures, influencers, activists, human rights defenders, victims of domestic abuse and violence against women and children."  

Reacting to the veto, Senate President Vicente Sotto III tweeted that bombings, scams and blackmail through the use of SIM cards may continue because of it.

"Ayos! Tuloy ang mga bombings and blackmail and scams using prepaid sims [Bombings, blackmail, and scams will continue using prepaid SIMS]," he said.  —KBK, GMA News