Senator Tito Sotto III yesterday said he is pushing for the registration of pre-paid SIM cards following the bombing of a passenger bus in Makati City Tuesday, which killed five passengers and injured 14 others.
Sotto, who was in Bacolod City yesterday as guest of honor during the launching of the Barkada Kontra Droga seminar at the University of St. La Salle, said when he was chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Services in 2000, he called on the government to have all pre-paid SIM cards registered.
He asked the National Telecommunications Commission to come up with a directive asking that pre-paid SIM cards be registered but many opposed it, he said.
Sotto said he believes that those who did not want it are those engaged in something illegal, because it does not require any additional expense to have one’s pre-paid SIM card registered.
When the NTC came up with a directive in 2000, the telephone companies were able to get a temporary restraining order from the Court to prevent it from being executed, the TRO lasted until 2009, he said.
Sotto said SIM cards are not only being used in bombings, but also in carnappings, drug traffickings, threats, and scams, among others.
“I told the Senate during the hearing that the bomb that was used to blow up the bus was a SIM card from a cellphone. Another cellphone may have been used to call that phone to trigger the explosion,” he said.
Sotto said that during the bombing in Moscow, they were able to trace the owner of the SIM card because all who bought pre-paid SIM cards were required to have them registered.
Hopefully, this time they will listen and government will impose the directive, he said. It does not need a bill, only a directive from the NTC or an Executive Order from the President, he added.
“We should concentrate in trying to unite to help resolve and prevent any bombing incident from happening. We also need to come up with measures to assure the people that government is doing something to prevent a similar incident from happening again,” he said.
Probably this is the best time to look into another proposal he is pushing, which is to get government to operate the transport industry especially the buses, Sotto said.
Buses should be used for public service and not just for business or to gain profit, he said.
Former Senator Mar Roxas, who was in Negros yesterday, said he would not engage in speculation on who was behind the bombing.
“Any other comment I might give will only serve to further confuse and muddy the situation,” he said.*CGS