The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) on Wednesday told those who still have not registered their SIMs to take advantage of the 90-day extension period as this is final and cannot be extended further.
“Magrehistro na po kayo (Please, register). Binigyan na po kayo ng 90 days more to register (You are already given 90 days more to register),” DICT Secretary Ivan John Uy said in an interview on Super Radyo dzBB.
“This is the final extension dahil ang batas natin hindi na kami binibigyan ng kapangyarihan upang mag extend pa ulit (because the law does not gives authority to extend again),” Uy said.
On Tuesday, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. approved the 90-day extension of the SIM registration period or until July 25 from the original deadline of April 26.
A total of 87,442,982 or 52.04% of the total 168,016,400 subscriber base nationwide have registered their SIMs as of April 24, 2023.
Uy reiterated that the government is looking to register 70% of the total subscriber base to capture the “legitimate” SIM users.
“At 70%, we’re looking at 100 million to 110 million legitimate SIM users. We’re now at 82 million registered,” Uy said.
The DICT chief said that telcos have already upgraded their systems so it would not be difficult for the public to register.
He also reminded the public that barangay IDs could be used to register SIM cards as some individuals do not possess any government IDs.
Uy warned that scammers may take advantage of the 90-day SIM registration extension.
With this he said that the DICT will gradually deactivate some SIM services such as access to social media accounts and loss of ability to make outgoing call as the 90-day additional registration period moves forward.
“Hanggat hindi natin nakukumpleto ang deactivation ng mga SIM cards ay talagang gagamitin po ng mga scammer, itong opportunity upang manloko pa rin,” Uy said.
(Until we complete the deactivation of SIM cards, scammers will take advantage of the situation.)
‘Assist poor and marginalized’
For his part, House appropriations panel chairperson Zaldy Co of Ako Bicol party-list said such extension should prompt telecommunication companies to find ways to assist the poor and marginalized—especially senior citizens, persons with disabilities, as well as solo and working parents—in registering their mobile numbers.
“Assistance must be given, especially to senior citizens who are unfamiliar with technical matters, persons with disability and persons with special needs who have inherent disadvantages in following online instructions, and solo parents and working parents who are hard pressed to set aside hours to fall in line at service desks and kiosks,” Co said in a statement.
“We do not want them to be shut out of telco service because of problems stemming from being poor and marginalized,” he added.
Co said telecoms should also accept additional verifiable IDs in SIM registration such as:
- barangay residence certification with picture and barcode
- vaccination card with QR Code
- latest BIR Income Tax Return
- school ID with picture and student number
- 4Ps ATM Card with card number
- DSWD Social Amelioration Card with barcode
- DOLE CAMP identification card; and
- PhilSys National ID physical card or electronic card
But for House Assistant Minority Leader Arlene Brosas of Gabriela party-list, the SIM registration extension will not cure its inherent defects.
“The risk of exposing personal information of millions of Filipinos to third parties, scammers and syndicates remains at the core of the SIM registration law despite the extension. Higit na tumitingkad ito lalo sa rekord ng data breach sa hanay ng mga ahensya mismo,” Brosas said in a separate statement.
(This is evident in the instances of data breach in the government agencies.)
She was referring to the data breach at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) which compromised 1.8 million personal data of PNP personnel, including fingerprint scans and tax records.
Likewise, Brosas called out Uy over the DICT chief’s plan to restrict social media access to those who will fail to register their SIM on time.
“This is a looming disenfranchisement and a move to deprive communication to millions of people who won’t be able to register their SIM. The planned gradual deactivation of unregistered SIM cards is not provided for under the Republic Act 11934 or the SIM registration law,” she said.
“The DICT chief should not concoct something that is outside the limits provided in the law in their desperation to enforce the registration. It is also objectionable that the DICT chief is citing the supposed bad habit of Filipinos for the ridiculous tight registration deadline which it imposed for over 160 million active SIM users in the country,” she added.
The new law, Brosas added, does not provide sufficient guarantee that public telecommunication entities will not use personal information of SIM registrants for marketing and transactions with third parties.
“In fact, this intent was revealed during the first few days of registration with the inclusion of tick boxes to allow telcos to use personal information for other purposes,” Brosas, who was one of those who voted against the passage of the measure, said. — with Llanesca T. Panti/RSJ, GMA Integrated News