An extension of the SIM Card registration period loomed very likely as more than 40 percent of cell phone users in the country still have to comply with the list-up with only four days left in the original time frame set by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).
Meanwhile, telecommunication companies (telcos) Smart, Globe, and DITO said the requirement for identification cards (IDs) posed a big problem in the registration process.
DICT Secretary Ivan John Uy said they will meet on Monday with representatives of the telcos and other stakeholders with a view to identifying solutions to the problem.
The DICT said earlier ruled out any extension of the April 26 SIM registration deadline despite calls from telcos to give their respective customers more time to register.
“Sa Lunes, magkakaroon kami ng pagpupulong upang makuha ang mga statistics kung ilan na ang nakapagparehistro… Matingnan kung ano ang talaga ‘yung mga problema. Bakit may ilan na hindi pa rin nakakapagparehistro?” Uy said.
“Kahit mag-extend tayo, kung hindi natin ma-identify ‘yung gap… Hindi magiging effective ‘yung extension… Dapat pag-aralang mabuti, tingnan ang problema,” he said.
The DICT chief hinted at making adjustments in the registration rules to make it easier for the SIM card holders to register.
As of April 20, 2023, a total of 76,927,923 subscribers have registered their SIMs, equivalent to about 45 percent of the 168 million subscribers nationwide.
The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has said it was not looking at 100 percent registration.
Uy also said the telcos asserted that a huge portion of the 168 million subscribers were using “disposable” SIMs which were used temporarily.
“Ang actual estimate nila ay close to 100 million ‘yung active SIMs… Kung ‘yan ang pagbabasehan, we have about 78 million to 79 million registered SIMS. We are hitting almost 80 percent registered,” he said.
He reiterated that the agency and the telcos would look at the “bigger concern” such as the lack of identification cards of the SIM card holders and poor connectivity in some areas.
“Even if we have an extension, kung hindi natin ma-address ‘yung rason kung bakit hindi sila makapagparehistro… ganun pa rin ang problema” [If the gaps in the registration process remained unaddressed, the problem will persist, and deadline extension won’t be of any help”, Uy said.
“Posibleng humanap tayo ng paraan na payagan silang makapag parehistro kung talagang hindi sila makakuha ng valid ID… perhaps any substitute document or something. We will be meeting on Monday to discuss that,” he added.
The SIM Card Registration Act which was enacted in October 2022 gave SIM card owners 180 days to register their numbers.
The law also provides that the DICT can extend the deadline for another 120 days if necessary.
“We encourage everyone to register to promote the responsible use of SIMs and provide law enforcement agencies the necessary tools to crack down on perpetrators who use SIMs for their crimes, consistent with the declared policy of the law,” DICT said.
Less than 60 percent of the total SIM card users in the Philippines have so far registered with their providers.
Smart said some 56 percent, or more than 37 million, of their users have already registered, while Globe reported that 40 percent or 33 million Globe of its subscribers were registered as of April 21.
For its part, DITO admitted that only 38 percent or five million of its subscribers have been registered.