NTC urges subscribers to ‘register now’

“Register now.” Thus said Regional Director Azor Sitchon, of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) Region III, who met with members of the Central Luzon Media Association—Pampanga
Chapter at the Bale Balita on Thursday afternoon.

Sitchon urged subscribers of three telecommunications firms – Smart, Globe and DITO – to register their SIM cards after the government extended the deadline period until July 25, 2023 or another 90 days. The SIM card registration ended last April 26 with millions of subscribers still unregistered citing poor network signal and lack of identification cards.

Sitchon said the NTC Region III along with the three telcos had conducted caravans in far-flung areas such as in the upland area of Barangay Nabuclod, Floridablanca, where subscribers’ SIM cards were registered in cooperation with the village chief. The Aetas were issued barangays IDs while telcos even took photos of subscribers to speed up registration process.

Sitchon said they had visited remote areas in Central Luzon to support Republic Act 11934 or the SIM Registration Act that is expected to fight scams via text and online messages.
“Mag register tayo, now na!,” said Sitchon.

Sitchon said poor area coverage should not hinder subscribers from registering their SIM cards. “Hindi naman reason yung poor coverage.”

It had been reported that some areas in the City of San Fernando, Pampanga had very poor signal which prevented Globe subscribers from registering their SIM cards before the April 26 deadline.

But Globe External Affairs for NCR and Luzon Head Abraham Francis M. Lingan said they will address the poor signal issue noting they will ramp up registration of Globe subscribers to beat the July 25, 2023 deadline.

Lingan has also expressed gratitude to the government for having extended the deadline for the SIM card registration. The three telcos have appealed for an extension of the deadline since they stand to lose millions of subscribers if the April 26 deadline had been enforced.

“Huwag na po nating hintayin (na matapos) ang next 90 days,” said Lingan urging subscribers to immediately register their SIM cards.

“With that we are doing good,” said Sitchon referring to the registration of SIM cards. Hindi po biro biro ang ginagawa para sa SIM card registration.”

Sitchon said they had been regularly coordinating with telcos and LGUs for the conduct of SIM card registration all over Central Luzon visiting the remotest parts of the region.

Meanwhile, Senator Grace Poe has called for a boost in information dissemination of the SIM Registration Act after the deadline had been extended so that it would help clarify the confusion and concerns of registrants regarding the law.

“It should be emphasized that SIMs will still be available in local retailers and sari-sari stores even past the SIM Registration deadline. Users will simply be required to register first before they can activate their new SIMs,” said Poe.

Poe reiterated her call to telecom firms to go down to the grassroots to reach out to more subscribers.
“As most telcos have been enjoying vast profits from their services, they have the corresponding obligation and the necessary resources to track down their SIM users and to widen the opportunity for registration,” she said.

“SIM registration was meant to promote the responsible use of SIM and to halt the abuses of scammers and criminals. It is not meant to punish legitimate SIM subscribers, especially those at remote areas.”

She urged the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to look into the continuing proliferation of spam messages despite the ongoing SIM registration.

Subscribers will now have limited access to services until they finally register, according to Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla. “Most of the services will be cut off with the telcos (telecommunications companies). So, there will be a social media unavailability for those who do not register in the next 90 days.”

SIM cards already in use but not registered during the sign-up period will be deactivated while new cards must be registered upon purchase.

Meanwhile, Cathy Yang of FVP & Group Head, Corporate CommunicationsPLDT & Smart says “ We welcome the 90 days extension which gives our subscribers more time to register + more time for us and gov’t to campaign for SIM Reg.

But as to the gradual deactivation which they’re still evaluating— discussions with the DICT, NTC are still ongoing but it would really be difficult for us to implement due to time constraints.”

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