AGHAM-Advocates of Science and Technology for the People and the Computer Professionals Union (CPU) call on the President to veto the SIM Card Registration Bill. In the reconciled versions of the Congress and the Senate, it cited that the foremost purpose of the bill is to address the problem of criminal acts and other illegal activities.

Earlier this year, the ratified Bill was endorsed to former President Duterte but he vetoed raising concerns in restricting social media and its implications in exercising our constitutional rights. It was refiled under the new administration striking out the restriction on social media.[1]

But Kim Cantillas, Secretary General of CPU clarifies, “SIM Card registration will not curb crimes which involve the utilization of SIM such as text scams, phishing and spam, mainly because they become prevalent with the ineptitude of the government to protect vital information of the public. On the contrary, SIM registration will further expose our personal information to risk of data leaks or being sold to entities that aggregate data to manipulate or scam their victims. Other countries with SIM card registration experienced rising cases of identity theft, among other crimes”.

Another implication of the proposed Bill is the disenfranchisement of marginal communities in far-flung areas such as farmers and indigenous peoples. “It is a reality that there are certain sectors of our society that lack the requirements such as the valid identification documents in order for them to register their SIM Card. In this case, it would not only deprive them of having access to telecommunication as a public utility, it will also have a greater implication in their economic activities. In the rural communities, most of the farmers rely on their cellphones to market their produce,” explains Jona Yang, Secretary General of AGHAM.

In order to address the rising cases of criminal activities, it is the responsibility of the state through their uniformed services to maintain peace, security and safety of the people. And with this existing function, there is no need for the passage of the SIM Card Registration Bill. Even the provision of the bill (Sec. 6) that directly addresses fraudulent texts or calls does not require SIM Registration for its implementation.

Cantillas points out, “instead of SIM Registration, it is more logical to strengthen the implementation of the Data Privacy Act that would resolve the unwarranted collection, use and disclosure of information of the public.”

Yang also raised concerns that the SIM Card Registration can be used alongside the Anti Terrorism Act of 2020 wherein activists, journalists and other concerned citizens who are fighting for their legitimate demands will be subject to surveillance and can be arbitrarily designated as terrorists. This in effect, will water down the people’s initiatives to be critical and to expose the wrongdoings in the government.

A protest action was held today at Mendiola to demand the President to veto the SIM Card Registration. AGHAM and CPU are united in demanding the government to junk the SIM Registration Bill and any future mandates to register SIM cards. We call upon all citizens to support this call as it is a matter of protecting our democratic rights and also defending the interests of the Filipino people.

[1] Why Did Duterte Veto the Philippine SIM Card Registration Act?, an article written by Mong Palatino dated April 26, 2022, The Diplomat


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