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FIRING LINE: The law that scammed us

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

Despite the group’s efforts to rally the nation behind its cause, the Junk SIM Registration Network (JSRN) mustered a protest last week that drew little attention.

But with the surge in scams a year after the Marcos administration implemented mandatory SIM registration, Firing Line lends this corner to JSRN’s view that a measure of accountability must be demanded of the government.

Jenna Rodriguez, JSRN media office, minced no words: “The SIM Registration Law isn’t just ineffective — it’s a scammer’s dream come true.”

She lambasted the law for facilitating, rather than preventing, fraudulent activities by allowing scammers to hide behind falsified identities. Recent raids on Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) uncovered a plethora of fraudulently registered SIM cards used in a variety of scams, from romance fraud to cryptocurrency schemes.

Rodriguez condemned the creation of vulnerable centralized databases under the law, emphasizing the profound risks to privacy and national security. “The government’s mishandling of public data is a ticking time bomb,” she cautioned.

Citing bureaucratic incompetence and failure of policy, the group rightfully points fingers at the Marcos administration and the National Telecommunications Commission. And why not?

Ill preparedness in implementing the SIM Registration Law exposed its flaws in the most despicable result — intensifying rather than quelling digital fraud.

While appearing to be a knee-jerk reaction of the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC), Firing Line welcomes the agency’s future filing of charges against erring agents who failed to properly account for their thousands of unregistered SIM cards allegedly being used to defraud the public.

It is high time that the SIM Registration Act be reviewed. The serious enforcement of its implementing rules and regulations is wanting. Give it more teeth!

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