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SIM Card Registration law needs effective nat'l ID system, say telcos

Telecommunications firms have called for the full rollout of the national identification system in response to the passage of the SIM Card Registration Act.

Ayala-led Globe Telecom Inc. said it supports the measure, and is ready to work with the government in drafting the implementing rules and regulations (IRR).

“We support the passage of this measure after previous roadblocks and we are ready to comply,” Globe general counsel Froilan Castelo said in an emailed statement.

“Aside from our advanced cybersecurity capabilities, we welcome a new regulatory environment that has stronger safeguards against cyberthreats and other crimes carried out using mobile phones,” he added.

Castelo noted, however, that the SIM registration would be useless if users will be allowed to submit any form of identification which can be easily falsified.

“For this reason, our position has been clear from the beginning, a national ID system must be in place to ensure the safe and successful implementation of this new law,” he said.

Castelo’s remarks were echoed by DITO Telecommunity Corp.’s chief technology officer Rodolfo Santiago who also cited the need for the National ID system.

“We have mentioned in previous statements that it will greatly help if both the national ID system and the passport system will be used as the validation of the identity of the subscriber,” he said in a separate statement.

“Doing so will unburden the telcos of the need to establish another database to store biometrics data, which would be time consuming and resource heavy,” he added.

Santiago said the firm has already included in its system the structure for registration as part of its subscriber onboarding through its mobile application.

“The major challenge I believe all telcos face is in the validation of identity,” he said, but noted that the company is one with the efforts of the Philippine government.

Pangilinan-led PLDT Inc. and its wireless unit Smart Communications Inc. has yet to release a statement on the matter.

New law

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Monday signed the measure which mandates all public telecommunications entities (PTEs) or direct sellers of SIM cards to require users to present a valid identification document with a photo upon purchase.

Under the law, PTEs are required to submit a verified list of their authorized dealers and agents across the country to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), and an updated list on a quarterly basis.

From the effectivity of the law, all existing postpaid and prepaid SIM users will be required to register within 180 days, or about six months to avoid deactivation. The Department of Information and Communications Technology can extend the registration period for not more than 120 days.

Failure to comply within the prescribed period will authorize the PTEs to automatically deactivate its services to the specific existing prepaid SIM subscriber.

National ID

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) last month said it has already registered over 70 million Filipinos to the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys).

Marcos in July ordered the issuance of 30 million physical cards and 20 million digital IDs under the PhilSys to achieve 92 million by the middle of 2023.

The PSA — which targets to distribute 30 million physical cards and 20 million digital IDs by the end of 2022 — has been receiving complaints about delays in the delivery of the IDs.—LDF, GMA News