‘MORE TIME TO COMPLY’: SIM card registration extended for 90 days

(NTC-6 photo)

By John Noel E. Herrera

The public now has more time to comply with Republic Act (RA) No. 11934 as Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla announced that the deadline for the subscribers identity module (SIM) card registration would be extended for another 90 days or until July 25, 2023.

RA No. 11934 or the SIM Registration Act mandates that all existing SIM users must register within 180 days from the effectivity of the law and this can be extended by the Department of Information and Communications Technology by another 120 days.

Remulla said that after the original April 26 deadline, subscribers will have limited access to services until they finally register.

“Most of the services will be cut off by the telcos (telecommunication companies). So, there will be a social media unavailability for those who do not register in the next 90 days,” Remulla said.

The extension was announced Tuesday, April 25, 2023, as less than 50 percent of the total active SIM cards in the country had registered, prompting calls from other sectors to extend the deadline, including the two largest companies – Globe Telecom and Smart Communications.

As of Sunday, April 23, 2023, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the National Communications Technology (NCT) reported that only 49.31 percent, or over 82 million SIM cards out of the current 168,016,400 active SIM cards have been registered, which include over 39 million from Smart, more than 37 million from Globe, and over five million from DITO.

The telcos earlier said that the lack of IDs (identification cards), as well as digital literacy, are among the roadblocks that slowed the registration turnout.

DICT said that they are now aiming to register at least 70 percent of active SIMs within the 90-day extension as they urged the public to comply with the law and register their SIM cards now.

Meanwhile, Senator Grace Poe, who is the principal sponsor of the law, said that both the telecommunication companies and the NTC should “double their efforts in reaching out to subscribers in rural and remote areas.”

In Western Visayas, NTC-6 officer-in-charge Engr. Leah Doromal said that they have established facilitated sim card registration (FSR) in 40 identified areas in the region where users were struggling to access the online portals due to low internet connectivity.

“As of yesterday (April 24), we have already registered 20,000 plus nga napa-register through FSR in Western Visayas,” Doromal said on Tuesday.

She added that registration is free and cautioned the public against unscrupulous persons who offer online registration for a fee.

“Yes, this is totally free, hindi man kinahanglan nga we have a load, kinahanglan lang nga may internet kita, pero kung sa FSR, no need to have a load. Wala gid ni kita sang dapat nga bayaran kay all our telco partners, ma-assist gid sa aton without any amount nga magastos nila,” Doromal added.

Some people, on the other hand, welcomed the extension of the deadline, noting that not everyone has good internet access.

“Okay lang man nga gin extend kay ang iba, especially mga mal-am sa uma, ti hindi lang man amu ja gina-intindi kag budlay gid ang signal man,” Jovy Elpos said.

“Ako naka register naman, pero ti may iban nga wara pa and bisan hambalon nga hapos man magpa register, pero iban di gid ra kamaan and need assistance kag iban di pa ma-recognize anda picture sa ID,” Dorothy Espin also said.

The RA No. 11934 or the SIM Registration Act was the first law signed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. under his administration and it aims to help law enforcement authorities “track perpetrators of crimes committed through phones” and become an effective means of regulating the issuance of SIM cards to curb the spread of spam and scam text messages in the country.