THE DEPARTMENT of Information and Communications Technology and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) should step up efforts against the rampant text scams in the country, a senator said on Thursday.
“The unabated surge of text scams has brought further hardship and distress on our people who are already mired in debts,” Senator Mary Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares, who chairs the Senate Public Services Committee, said in a statement.
“This must stop.”
She said that despite the NTC’s directive for major telecommunication companies to send warnings against fake job offers sent via SMS or short message service, these have continued to proliferate and deceive mobile phone users.
“We must not allow the fraudsters and syndicates behind these text messages to continue to feast on our countrymen who are still plagued by the pandemic, and rising oil and commodity prices,” the senator said.
Ms. Poe called on the members of the incoming 19th Congress to prioritize the deliberation and passage of the SIM Card Registration bill to institutionalize protection for millions of mobile users in the country.
As of end-March, Globe Telecom, Inc. had 87.4 million subscribers, while Smart Broadband, Inc. with 70.3 million. DITO Telecommunity Corp. had five million subscribers by the end of 2021.
The proposed measure mandating the registration of SIM cards was passed by the 18th Congress, but President Rodrigo R. Duterte vetoed it, saying the matter needs more thorough study.
He did not agree with the measure’s provision that will require social media networks to secure the real names and phone numbers of account users. Various sectors also opposed this provision, citing threats to privacy and free speech.
The bill was intended to help fight telecommunication fraud as well as terrorism and other criminal activities.
“The whole of government must ensconce a safer and more secure digital and mobile phone use in the country to protect our people from falling deeper into poverty and helplessness,” said Ms. Poe.
“To most, the mobile phone is their only means to survive, and it shouldn’t at all be compromised,” she added. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan