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Is NTC sleeping on the job?

Manila Standard

The SIM Registration Act of 2022 was designed to put an end to text scams by unscrupulous individuals eager to make a fast buck at the expense of the unsuspecting public.

It is the National Telecommunications Commission tasked to implement the law.

Now, two years later, the agency admits mandatory Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) registration is turning out to be ineffective in preventing text scams victimizing the unwary and the gullible.

The NTC stressed while the SIM Registration Act was “an important tool” to fight against scams perpetrated using mobile phones as it provides the legal sanctions for SIM-aided offenses, it was “not a silver bullet against messaging scams.”

The telco regulator issued the statement after Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian accused it of “sleeping on the job” after recent raids conducted against Smartweb Technology Corp. in Pasay City, Zun Yuan Technology Inc. in Bamban, Tarlac, and Lucky South 99, which straddles Porac town and Angeles City in Pampanga yielded numerous SIM cards that had supposedly been used to perpetrate various fraud and scamming activities.

In the case of Zun Yuan, authorities discovered SIM cards bearing false identities, along with various phones and scripts for scamming purposes.

These SIM cards were said to be used in undertaking love scams, cryptocurrency scams, and other investment scams.

The NTC said these scamming activities “have become a regional phenomenon not confined only within the Philippines,” thus acknowledging the need to enhance the enforcement of SIM card registration.

The SIM Registration Act, or Republic Act 11934, the first law signed by President Marcos Jr., was intended to reduce, if not eliminate, scams committed through text or online messages by identifying SIM card owners or users.

Thus, it eliminated the anonymity that had previously made it easier to carry out scams using a mobile phone.

RA 11934 makes providing false or fictitious information when registering an offense punishable by imprisonment of six months to two years, a fine of up to P300,000, or both.

For fraudulently using a registered SIM card, the punishment includes jail time of at least six years or a fine of P200,000, or both.

“[In] light of these recent developments and discoveries, the NTC shall continue to tighten its regulations pertaining to SIM registration to the fullest extent allowed under the existing law,” the agency vowed.

We believe the NTC should now proactively work with law enforcement agencies to investigate rising cases of text scams.

Apart from this, it should conduct public information and awareness campaigns to educate Filipinos, to avoid making SIM registration a colossal waste of time for millions of subscribers.

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