Camarines Sur 2nd district Rep. LRay Villafuerte is pushing for a companion law to Republic Act (RA) No.11934--also known as the SIM Registration Act--that would protect subscribers from a bunch of other headaches.

If RA No.11934 is meant to protects Filipinos from text scams, Villafuerte's House Bill (HB) No. 7982 or the Mobile Subscribers Protection Act seeks to spare them from the "bad service" of telecommunications companies (telcos) 

“After passing the new SIM registration law to finally stop our cell phone users from falling prey to cybercrimes, it is time for us lawmakers to write a complementary measure, this time to prevent subscribers from being victimized by their own telco providers with below-par services,” Villafuerte said.  

“While there is considerable competition in the telco business, this lucrative sector is an oligopoly that the state is obliged to keep an eye on," the Bicolano said in justifying HB No.7982. 

Villafuerte said that the government must ensure that the services being provided by telcos to their subscribers are "adequate, affordable and efficient". 

He said the number of registered SIM users has hit 113.969 million after the sign-up period ended last July 30. This represents 67.83 percent of the estimated 168 million SIMs nationwide from three public telecommunications entities (PTEs). 

“Telcos have time and again delivered  below-par services and have failed to genuinely improve such services to the satisfaction of both their prepaid and postpaid subscribers," said the former Camarines sur governor. 

Villafuerte filed HB No.7982 together with Bicol Saro Rep. Brian Raymund Yamsuan to stop telcos from incessantly inflicting sub-par services on their hapless subscribers. 

The bill protects the interests of Filipino mobile service consumers by regulating prices, doing away with expiration dates on prepaid loads, requiring proper detailed billing of both prepaid and postpaid subscriptions, and providing full mobile number portability. 

Other service improvements being sought under the bill include offering consumers insurance for their mobile devices, protecting subscribers’ right to privacy, and prohibiting unsolicited commercial advertisements unless allowed by subscribers themselves—and that must be sent by telcos only during business hours. 

Proposed penalties against erring telcos range from fines of not less than P1 million but not more than P10 million and/or a suspension or revocation of their legislative franchises and other licenses issued by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC). 

To protect prepaid subscribers, Villafuerte said HB No.7982 bars telcos from 1) imposing an expiration period on the validity of the unused prepaid call and text cards, and 2) forfeiting load credits stored in active prepaid celfone accounts. 

In connection with this proposed prohibition, the bill requires telcos to refund their prepaid subscribers whose load credits have been forfeited without valid cause. 

He said that HB No.7982 also prohibits the public disclosure of the personal user information of celfone subscribers—including their history of voice calls and text messages without their explicit permission or a valid court order. It imposes penalties on erring telcos. 

The bill also outlaws telcos and individuals from using personal user data for their marketing or promotional gimmicks without the prior consent of their subscribers.

Source: Manila Bulletin (