(File photo)

MANILA – A lawmaker said Tuesday it is the responsibility of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the telecommunications companies (telcos) to facilitate the information drive regarding Republic Act 11934 or the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Registration Act, not the local government units.

Leyte Rep. Richard Gomez made the statement after the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) called on LGUs to carry out the information dissemination campaign for the registration of SIM cards.

Gomez reminded the DILG that the primary mover of the implementation of RA 11934 is the DICT.

"It is the responsibility of the DICT and the telecommunication companies to implement the registration of SIM cards, including informing the public the WHYs and the DOs. Why give the burden of letting the public know about the pros and cons of the measures, and the registration methods, to the LGUs when these already have so much task at hand?" Gomez asked.

He also added that the telcos should not burden the LGUs since these private firms are the ones earning hundreds of millions of pesos a day from mobile phone users.

"They are much richer than most LGUs. They should take care of their own business and their own problems because their profit are all theirs to keep and enjoy,” Gomez said.

He said LGUs already have a lot in their plates amid the continued threat of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), the onslaught of natural calamities such as typhoons and earthquakes, and the implementation of local peace and order policies as the country celebrates the holidays under a less restrictive mobility policy.

He said telecommunications firms can easily tap their distributors and thousands of retail stores to do the registration where they sell their SIM cards.

"Marami na pong trabahong inaasikaso ang ating mga LGUs. Pangunahin po rito ang unahin ang mga pangangailangan ng kanilang mga constituents. Ang SIM card registration po ay trabaho ng DICT at ng telcos. Hayaan na po nating sila ang gumawa ng kanilang trabaho (The LGUs are already swamped with work. First and foremost is to prioritize the needs of their constituents. The SIM card registration is the job of the DICT and the telcos. Let them do their job)," Gomez said.

RA 11934, the first law signed by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., aims to regulate the registration and use of SIMs by mandating all end-users to register their SIMs with their respective telecommunications networks before their activation.

In a statement on Monday, DILG Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. said an intensive information drive must be carried out at the grassroots level and LGUs should step up in educating the public on the requirements and importance of the law.

“As we seek to ensure public safety even in the online space, I encourage LGUs to exert all efforts to promote (the) responsible use of SIM cards, educate their stakeholders on the benefits of mandatory SIM card registration, and guide them through the whole registration process,” Abalos said.

He said the SIM Registration Act would aid the Philippine National Police and other law enforcement authorities in curbing rising electronic communication-aided criminal activities in the Philippines, such as mobile phishing, spam text messages, online scams, bank frauds, and identity theft.

Abalos said the implementation of the law would not only prompt accountability from all sides -- the mobile users, the telcos, the government, and authorities – but will also help the PNP to quickly locate offenders of crimes committed in anonymity through the use of electronic devices.

Section 4 of the law's implementing rules and regulations (IRR) released by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) provides that the DILG, along with other government agencies such as the DICT, NTC, Department of Education, and telecom companies, shall “facilitate all SIM registrations in remote areas with limited telecommunication or Internet access.”

“Together with the LGUs, DILG will cooperate with DICT and the NCT to fast-track the establishment of registration facilities in geographically-isolated areas, which should be done within 60 days after December 27,” Abalos said.

He sought the assistance of local chief executives (LCEs) and barangay captains in remote areas in processing needed documents and other requirements to set up the registration centers.

“We know not everyone has access to the Internet and other means of communication, so let us reach out to them and inform them of this new law,” he said.

To register, all existing SIM subscribers must submit an accomplished form through a database platform or website provided by the telco within 180 days.

The DICT can extend the registration period for another 120 days. If a subscriber fails to register, the SIM card will be deactivated.

Subscribers must provide their full name, birthday, sex, address, mobile SIM number and serial number, and valid identification cards (for individuals); business name, business address, and full name of authorized signatory (for businesses and other juridical entities); full name, nationality, birthday, passport, proof of Philippine address, and return ticket to own country (for foreigners and tourists). (PNA)