Senators alarmed as they too become targets of text scams

MANILA, Philippines — Senators on Monday expressed concern over the growing cases of text scams after they too became targets of messages bearing their names.

Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, in a statement, said: “This [development] not only brings up trust issues against the telecommunications companies but… all other firms to whom we give our personal data.”

Sen. JV Ejercito, in an interview, said he too had received such scam messages, as he expressed support for the enactment of laws requiring the registration of subscriber identity module (SIM) cards.

INQ File Photo

Law vetoed

A proposed law precisely for that purpose had been passed by the 18th Congress. But this was vetoed last April by then President Rodrigo Duterte because of the inclusion of social media providers in the proposed registration.

Sen. Grace Poe, who heads the Senate committee on public services, said she would aim this year to pass such a bill and hold an inquiry into the proliferation of scam messages.

Sen. Nancy Binay filed a resolution on Monday seeking an investigation into that matter, while a House panel has approved a consolidated bill on the required registration of SIM cards.

‘Spiritual formation’

Meanwhile, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada was moved to deliver a privilege speech, citing several instances of scammers reaching out to him to solicit funds.

According to the senator, one such scammer claimed to be Batanes Vice Gov. Ignacio Villa, while another claimed to be Rep. Leo Rodriguez of Catanduanes.

Estrada said he also received messages from a provincial chapter president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, as well as a board member from a Bicol province who sought funds for the “spiritual formation” and “team building” of employees of that provincial government.

“It is very saddening to realize that the mobile number I am using for my official functions has now fallen into the hands of fraudsters,” he lamented.

These scam messages all the more give Congress a reason to pass a law on SIM registration, he said. Melvin Gascon/INQ