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Supreme Court denies TRO bid vs. SIM registration

BAGUIO CITY — The Supreme Court on Tuesday denied the bid to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the implementation of the mandatory SIM registration.

"The court during its en banc deliberations today denied the prayer to issue a TRO," said SC spokesperson Brian Keith Hosaka during a press conference here.

He said the court instead required the respondents to file a comment on the petition within 10 days from the actual receipt of notice.

The SC has yet to disclose the grounds for the dismissal of the TRO bid.

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.

In their appeal, they asked the high court to issue a TRO and/ or writ of preliminary injunction against the respondents to restrain them from implementing the law.

They also asked the SC to declare the law unconstitutional and ordered the respondents to cease and desist from using, storing, transferring, and processing all information gathered into the SIM register and to destroy the present data.

The petitioners argued that the law violates the freedom of speech by imposing a system of prior restraint, and the right against unreasonable search and seizure as well as the right to privacy of communication.

The petitioners include 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.

Meanwhile, respondents include various government agencies including the National Telecommunications Commission, the National Privacy Commission, and the Department of Information and Communications Technology, as well as private telecommunication firms.

The SC's decision came on the same day President Ferdinand "Bongbong"  Marcos Jr. approved the 90-day extension of the mandatory SIM registration beyond the April 26 deadline.

Users were previously given 180 days to register their SIMs or else face the risk of having them deactivated.

The SIM Card Registration Act seeks to end crimes using the platform including text and online scams by regulating the sale and the use of SIMs. It mandates all public telecommunications entities (PTEs) to establish their respective registration platforms to onboard users who present valid identification cards.

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. —KBK/RSJ, GMA Integrated News