THE Senate of the Philippines approved on third and final reading the bill requiring the registration of mobile Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Card.

The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 1310, or the SIM Card Registration Act, which aims to curb crimes being committed in the country through mobile phone.

The measure was sponsored by Senate Committee on Public Services chairperson Senator Grace Poe. It is the first legislative measure passed by the upper chamber in the 19th Congress.

In April this year, then President Rodrigo Duterte vetoed the SIM Card Registration bill due to the inclusion of social media providers in the registration requirement that was not part of the bill's original version.

The measure aims to regulate the registration and use of SIMs by mandating subscribers to register with telecommunication entities before SIMs are activated. Existing subscribers must also register or risk deactivating or retiring their SIMs.

Subscriber’s information includes full name, date of birth and address of end-users. Valid government-issued identification cards to verify their identity is also needed.

All these information are “absolutely confidential” unless it was subpoenaed in aid of an investigation.

SB 1310 also prohibits "spoofing," or the act of transmitting misleading or inaccurate information about the source of phone call or text messages to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value.

The bill also penalizes the sale of stolen SIMs.

"Finally, we can now do something aside from just ignoring, deleting or blocking the numbers with fraudulent or spam messages," Poe said.

"We have now in our hands the means to unmask criminals who have been hiding for so long under the protection of anonymity, and to bring them to justice," she added.

Lawmakers earlier expressed concern on the proliferation of text scams which put the security of the public at risk.

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said the SIM registration Act is a “weapon against crime.”

In August, Zubiri said he was targeted by mobile phone scammers after someone who posed as public officials attempted to extort money from him for a bogus political convention.

“Matakot na sana 'yung mga scammer, kapag naging batas na ito. It's time to catch the scammers, the spammers, and the mobile hoodlums who try to take advantage of our innocent public. Your days are numbered, and you will be exposed soon,” he said.

"This is a step in the right direction. Protecting the public is our primordial concern and this law will help our security services track down criminals and possible terrorist threats by using unregistered numbers to do their dirty work," he added. (SunStar Philippines)