The recent decision of the national government to extend the period for the registration of SIM cards for up to 90 days from its original deadline of April 26 comes with a sigh of relief from telco subscribers who are still struggling to comply with the SIM Card Registration Law.
This extended grace period, however, should also serve as an opportunity for telecommunication companies and local government units (LGUs) to improve their own programs for SIM card registration.
So how could we improve the current setup? Let’s count the ways.
Critics have charged that the current methods of SIM card registration have left out the marginalized sectors who not only often have no access to the Internet but also lack the basic identification cards needed to register.
Telcos and the government also seemed to have failed to realize that even in this age where smartphones and tablets have moved from a “fad” to an absolute necessity (as was driven home by the Covid-19 pandemic), many of those in the marginalized sectors still rely on old-fashioned push-button phones simply because they’re much cheaper and more practical than smartphones. So how can the SIM cards in those phones be registered?
It’s notable that local government units (LGUs) in Laguna province, while launching an extensive information campaign to convince their constituents to register their SIM cards, seem to be lukewarm on conducting their own drives to help those without access to the Internet register their cards.
Sure, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has done its best by launching drives to help mobile subscribers register their SIM cards here in Laguna province. But as the song goes, their best simply “wasn’t good enough.”
LGUs should step in. Instead of merely providing information to mobile subscribers, they should take own initiative to ensure that those who don't have access to the "traditional" means of registering their SIM cards. If possible, extend assistance down to the barangay and street levels.
Ninety days should be long enough for telcos and government officials to rectify these missteps and ensure that all Filipinos will be able to continue to connect with their friends and family in this digital age.