Senate prioritizes ratification of SIM card registration bill

MANILA – Senators JV Ejercito and Grace Poe are pushing for the ratification of the SIM Card Registration bill while more senators want to investigate anew the proliferation of scams via text messages.

The bill, which failed to hurdle the 18th Congress, requires the registration of subscriber identity module (SIM) cards amid continuing scam text messages.

Ejercito said on Monday that he and Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri received numerous dubious messages after the campaign period.

Nalimutan ko na eh. Nabura ko na. Binlock ko na kasi ang kulit. Pero nagduda na ako nagpanggap siyang isang governor ng isang province na kilala ko rin at nanghingi ng pera para daw sa isang fiesta (I already forgot. I erased it. I blocked it because the sender was insistent. But I was already in doubt when the sender pretended to be a governor of a province whom I know and asked for money for a fiesta),” he said in an interview.

Ejercito wants to know how scammers got their mobile numbers.

“I would want to support the SIM Card Registration bill. This would greatly prevent scammers and pranksters from doing their modus operandi,” he added.

Poe, who chairs the Committee on Public Services, will lead the discussion of the bill on Wednesday so they can come up with a common measure for approval by November.

She said the bill is one of their priority measures for ratification this year.

Nag-hearing na kami d’yan noon, marami na kaming nakalap na impormasyon at kaisipan tungkol dyan. Kung matatapos natin ang hearing sa Wednesday, technical working group na lang sa susunod na linggo, tapos baka pwede na natin ma-plenaryo. Hopefully, ito ay mapasa by November. Ito ang nakikita nating timeline kasi hihintayin pa rin natin ang bersyon ng House (We conducted a hearing before and we have already collected several information and ideas about it. If we can finish the hearing on Wednesday, we will create a technical working group next week, and then we can bring it to the plenary. Hopefully, this will be ratified by November. This is the timeline I perceive because we have to wait for the version of the House of Representatives),” Poe said in a radio interview.

Aside from the spam texts that market products, Poe said she also received messages and calls from persons pretending to be from the government and asking for financial support.

May isang tumawag sa akin sa isang app, sinasabi na siya raw ‘yung ambassador. Iyong profile nya na lumabas sa app, iyon nga ‘yung ambassador na ‘yun, kaya lang hindi naman sya ‘yun (I received a call in an app pretending to be an ambassador. The profile that appeared on the app was the ambassador’s but I know it was fake),” Poe narrated.

She had invited concerned agencies and other stakeholders to join in the discussions, like the National Privacy Commission, Department of Information and Communications Technology, and telecommunications firms.

Poe said the Department of Trade and Industry was likewise invited to explain the proliferation of text blasts and other gadgets being used in fraudulent activities.

Call to investigate

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian filed a resolution calling for an investigation on the proliferation of spam and phishing text messages, citing the need to protect consumers’ right to privacy and security.

“It is alarming that while major telecommunications providers claim to have already blocked a significant number of spam and phishing text messages, the problem continues to hound many subscribers,” the senator said in a statement.

Gatchalian cited the latest messages have evolved to include the receiver’s name compared to previous random transmissions.

He said the inclusion of the receiver’s name indicates a breach of privacy and gives rise to concerns that personal details may have already been compromised.

Senator Nancy Binay warned in a statement that the “different level” of text scams may lead to bigger and more sophisticated schemes while Majority Leader Senator Joel Villanueva said there should be immediate deactivation of numbers involved in anomalous text blast schemes. (PNA)