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Marcos approves 90-day SIM registration extension

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. on Tuesday approved the 90-day extension of the mandatory SIM registration beyond the April 26 deadline.

According to the video posted by Radio Television Malacañang on Facebook, failure to register within the given period of extension will result in limited SIM services from the telecommunication companies.

Marcos directed the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to make a public announcement regarding the extension.

The 90-day extension was first announced by Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla earlier in the day.

"There's a 90-day extension," Remulla said.

As of Sunday, April 23, more than 82 million SIM cards have been registered or 49.31% of total active SIMs as of December 2022. At present, there are 168,016,400 total number of active SIMs in the Philippines. 

From the 82 million registered SIMs, more than 37 million are Globe subscribers, more than 39 million are Smart subscribers and over five million are Dito subscribers.

The DICT is aiming to register 70% of active SIMs within the 90-day extension.

Under the SIM Card Registration Act, the original deadline for the mandatory SIM registration is on Wednesday, April 26, 2023.

The law mandates all public telecommunications entities (PTEs) to establish their respective registration platforms to onboard users who present valid identification cards.

Users are given 180 days or until April 26, 2023 to register their SIMs or else face the risk of having them deactivated.

"Most of the services that come with the cellphones that are not registered will be cut off with the telcos," Remulla said on Tuesday.

"So there will be a social media unavailability for those who do not register."

In the Senate, Senator Grace Poe, principal sponsor of the law, welcomed the development and mentioned that lawmakers have foreseen the need for an extension period during their deliberations to be able to accommodate all 168 million SIM subscribers.

With this, Poe urged the telecommunications companies to “go down to the grassroots” and reach out to their subscribers.

“As most telcos have been enjoying vast profits from their services, they have the corresponding obligation and the necessary resources to track down their SIM users and to widen the opportunity for registration,” Poe, chairperson of the Senate public services committee, said.

“Both [National Telecommunications Commission] and telcos must double their efforts in reaching out to subscribers in rural and remote areas,” she added.

Apart from this, Poe urged DICT to look into the continuing proliferation of spam messages despite the ongoing SIM registration.

Further, Poe prodded the DICT, NTC, and the telecommunication companies to disseminate correct information on the law and clarify the confusion surrounding its implementation.

Among the provisions of the law that need to be clarified to the public is that SIMs will still be available in local retailers and sari-sari stores even past the registration deadline, Poe said.

The implementing rules and regulations of the SIM Card Registration Act took effect on December 27, after the measure was signed into law by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. last October.

Data released by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) showed that more than half of the SIMs — or subscriber identity module — across the country have yet to be registered with their respective PTEs three days before the April 26 deadline. 

On Monday, Remulla said the government will keep a careful watch on telecommunications companies to ensure that they do not take undue advantage of the public.

Last week, the National Telecommunications Commission said the government was not aiming for a 100% registration of SIM users. 

In a related development, the Supreme Court on Tuesday denied the bid to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the implementation of the mandatory SIM registration.

At a press briefing in Baguio City, SC spokesperson Keith Hosaka  said the court instead required the respondents to file a comment on the petition within 10 days from the actual receipt of notice.

Last week, a group of petitioners asked the high court to declare as unconstitutional the law mandating the mandatory registration of SIM and to issue a TRO against its implementation. —with Joahna Lei Casilao and Hana Bordey/KBK, GMA Integrated News