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NTC on petition vs. SIM registration: We're just implementing the law

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) on Wednesday said it is only implementing the law after a petition was filed asking the Supreme Court (SC) to declare the law on mandatory SIM registration unconstitutional.

"Kami naman sa NTC, we are just implementing the task assigned to us by the law. So ini-implement lang namin kung ano ang nasa batas," NTC Deputy Commissioner Jon Paulo Salvahan told Unang Balita, referring to the SIM Card Registration Act.

(We at the NTC, we are just implementing the task assigned to us by the law. So we are just implementing what is in the law.)

According to Salvahan, they have yet to receive a copy of the petition.

On Monday, a group composed of different sectors formally asked the SC to declare the law unconstitutional for allegedly infringing on Article III Sections 1, 2,3, and 11 of the 1987 Constitution.

In its 59-page petition, the group called on the SC to issue a temporary restraining order and/or writ of a preliminary injunction against the implementation of the law.

It also wants the SC to order public telecommunications entities to cease and desist from using, storing, transferring, and processing the information gathered on the register and to destroy the data already gathered.

Petitioners are the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, journalist Ronalyn Olea, Bayan Muna party-list Representative Eufemia Cullamat, and Bayan Secretary-General Renato Reyes, among others.

Respondents include government agencies like the NTC, the National Privacy Commission, and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), as well as private telecommunication firms.

Meanwhile, Salvahan said around 73,033,000 or 43.4% of SIM cards have been registered a week before the registration deadline on April 26.

“In recent days, nakita natin na may sharp increase in the number of registrants, perhaps dahil malapit na yung deadline ng registration,” he said.

(In recent days, we observed a sharp increase in the number of registrants perhaps because of the approaching deadline of the registration.)

Salvahan said the NTC is working with other government agencies and local government units in setting up facilitated SIM registration in remote areas.

For those who cannot register their SIM cards due to lack of IDs, Salvahan advised them to get a barangay ID, which he said is the easiest to obtain among the 17 valid IDs.

Salvahan said the three telecommunication firms are asking for an extension of the SIM registration deadline. The DICT has no decision yet on the request, he added. —KBK, GMA Integrated News