Wes Gatchalian: Only 3% of 152.4M mobile users in PH are registered

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By Billy Begas

Only 3% of the 152.4 million mobile subscribers in the country today are registered, according to House Deputy Speaker and Valenzuela Rep. Wes Gatchalian.

Gatchalian, who lauded the passage on third and final reading of the proposed SIM Card Registration Act (House Bill 5793) at House of Representatives, said those who are registered are postpaid users “meaning 97% or over 147 million mobile subscribers utilize unregistered prepaid numbers.”

“This untraceable platform opens up greater prospects for small-time opportunists and organized criminal syndicates to create fake names and hide behind the anonymity that a prepaid mobile number can give, to become brazen in defrauding our citizens with their hard-earned money. There is obviously a flaw in the system that we can remedy by this legislation,” Gatchalian said.

Gatchalian noted that the Philippines is among the remaining 20% of countries in the world without a mandatory SIM card registration law. He said 155 countries have adopted the registration of SIM Cards and local telecommunication companies are supportive of the proposal.

The solon also expressed belief that the passage of the landmark legislation is crucial considering the growing number of mobile subscribers who had been victimized by text scams, phishing, recruitment for suspicious job offers, identity theft, death threats, bomb scare, false information and other crimes, committed using prepaid SIM cards.

“We change SIM cards as fast as we change our soiled shirts. Alarmingly, this seeming boundless stream of supply has become a magnet for nefarious and illegal activities,” Gatchalian added.

Under the measure, those buying prepaid SIM cards need to register and provide a valid identification card.

“Nonetheless, data privacy concerns have been addressed with sufficient measures to prevent breach of confidential information,” he added.

Gatchalian added that the measure will compliment the proposed Internet Transactions Act (ITA), which he also author, in curbing illegal activities online.

The Senate version of the SIM Card Registration bill is pending on second reading.