MANILA, Philippines — Senators on Monday sounded the alarm on the increasing number of spam and scam text messages, prompting them to push for the immediate passage of the SIM Card registration bill.
The call came after several senators during the Senate regular session noted having received text scams themselves, including Senator Jinggoy Estrada, who shared several incidents where scammers posed as local officials, board members, or mayors.
“Nakapanlulumong malaman na ang gamit ko na mobile number para sa aking mga opisyal na gawain ay napasakamay na pala ng mga manloloko at ang higit na nakakabahala ay ang posibilidad na nagpasalin-salin na sa kung kani-kaninong poncio pilato ang isang dapat sana ay pribadong impormasyon,” said Estrada during his privilege speech.
(It’s depressing to know that the mobile number I’m using for my official work has fallen into the hands of fraudsters and what’s more worrying is the possibility that what should have been private information has been transferred to whoever.)
“Nakapanlulumong malaman na ang gamit ko na mobile number para sa aking mga opisyal na gawain ay napasakamay na pala ng mga manloloko at ang higit na nakakabahala ay ang posibilidad na nagpasalin-salin na sa kung kani-kaninong poncio pilato ang isang dapat sana ay pribadong impormasyon.”-Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada
He noted that blocking numbers do not stop these schemes as they can continue doing this as long as they can use pre-paid or unregistered numbers.
“The anonymity they’re enjoying is their shield from their accountability in their abusive practices,” said Estrada.
Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri then appealed to his colleagues to pass the SIM Card Registration bill into law, to end once and for all text scams and spam.
“Let’s pass it once again hopefully before the break to show the public that we mean business when it comes to stopping all sorts of text scams,” he said.
According to Zubiri, telecommunication companies should also lock out or completely ban numbers involved in scams.
Meanwhile, Senator Joel Villanueva shows how much more vulnerable the public is if senators and officials fall victim to these schemes.
“This is not just happening among us here in the Senate hall; this is happening all over the country,” said Villanueva.
“Can you imagine our kababayans, especially the mahihirap na naghahanap ng trabaho, right now 3 million ang walang trabaho, hindi pa kasama ‘yung hindi naghahanap ng trabaho?” he added
(Can you imagine our fellow citizens, especially the poor who are looking for work, right now, 3 million are unemployed, not including those who are not looking for a job.)
Poe, for her part, also shared that she was victimized by a scammer pretending to be an ambassador through WhatsApp and another individual posing as a Senate official.
“Kung tayo na meron na tayong complete staff work, dumadaan lahat ng gustong makipagusap sa’tin, ay naapektuhan, lalo na ‘yung mga ordinaryong kababayan! Paano nila maveverify?” she said.)
(If we, who already have a whole staff and screen those who want to talk to us, are affected, what more are the ordinary citizens?)
“Hopefully, we pass this [SIM card registration bill] before we go on break,” she added.
Senator Ronald dela Rosa also joined the call to stop the rampant text scam, citing the bill he filed on July 12, 2022, calling for an investigation of the alarming rising number of text scams.
“Nakakalungkot na kaakibat ng mas maunlad na teknolohiya ay ang pananamantala rito ng ilang masasamang loob, these deplorable criminals are taking advantage of the anoynmous prepaid sim cards to perpetrate evil crimes including taking the lives of innocent individuals.”
(It is unfortunate that as we move to develop technology, it is also becoming a channel for exploitation by some evil-minded people, these deplorable criminals are taking advantage of the anonymous prepaid SIM cards to perpetrate evil crimes including taking the lives of innocent individuals.)
It can be recalled that the Sim Card Registration Act was passed by the 18th Congress, but was vetoed by former President Rodrigo Duterte as it included social media providers in the registration requirements. – Zacarian Sarao/INQ