Gatchalian renews push for SIM card registration

Robie de Guzman   •   January 14, 2021   •   186

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Thursday renewed his push for a bill mandating the registration of all users of pre-paid subscriber identity module (SIM) cards to enable authorities to easily clampdown those engaged in illegal activities.

In a statement, Gatchalian noted that a number of individuals in the recent months have fallen prey to online fraudsters who used prepaid SIM cards to carry out their illegal activities.

The senator has recently been a victim of credit card hacking after perpetrators managed to gain access to one-time password (OTP) using a prepaid mobile phone, and changed the mobile number linked to his account.

“When fraudsters gain access to OTPs, it’s as if they’re the actual owners of the account doing the transaction,” Gatchalian said.

“The boundless stream of supply of prepaid SIM cards has become a magnet of illicit activities since the start of the pandemic. There had been countless cases of online fraudsters who used unregistered mobile numbers,” he added.

Under Senate Bill 176 or the proposed SIM Card Registration Act, end users of prepaid SIM cards shall be required to present a valid ID and photo and sign a control-numbered registration form issued by the service provider of the purchased SIM card.

Copies of the accomplished forms shall be furnished to the same service provider and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).

“Mahalagang may mukha o pangalan sa likod ng mga prepaid SIM cards lalo na ngayong panahon ng pandemya na kailangan ng contact-tracing. Anong kaibahan kung gagawin nang requirement ang pagre-register ng mga prepaid SIM cards sa requirement na kailangang mag-register sa mga lugar na pinupuntahan mo para sa contact-tracing?” he said.

Gatchalian first filed the bill in 2016 and re-filed it in July 2019.

Gatchalian seeks probe over reports of students selling lewd photos, videos online

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has urged the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to open an investigation following reports of students allegedly selling lewd photos and videos online.

Based on reports of The Philippine Online Student Tambayan (POST), a news portal on the student sector, several students are using #AlterPH, #AlterPinay, and #AlterPhilippines on Twitter to sell their photos and videos  so that they could buy gadgets for their siblings and pay for internet bills. 

“Nakakabahalang dahil sa mga suliraning dinudulot ng pandemya, ang ating mga kabataan ay nahaharap sa matinding panganib na maging biktima ng pang-aabuso at karahasan (It is alarming that because of the effects of the pandemic, our students are facing risks of becoming victims of abuse and violence),” he said in a statement.

There has been a spike in the number of online sexual exploitation cases compared to last year. Between March 1 to May 24 2020, there were 279,166 cases of online sexual exploitation recorded in Metro Manila; a 264% increase compared to the 76,561 cases recorded from the same period last year.

Gatchalian also urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to boost its child protection program to better identify learners who may be experiencing abuse and exploitation. AAC 

PH gov’t urged to include teachers in COVID-19 vaccination priority list

Robie de Guzman   •   December 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has called on the government to include public school teachers, non-teaching staff and school administrators in the prioritized groups for the roll out of the vaccine against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In a statement, Gatchalian said giving teachers the COVID-19 vaccine is a “crucial step in ensuring the safety of school premises and in building confidence for the gradual resumption of face-to-face classes.”

Gatchalian stressed that since the pandemic began this year, the country’s more than 900,000 teachers and non-teaching staff have been serving as frontliners to ensure learning continuity for more than 22 million learners.

The lawmaker said that when teachers were preparing for the implementation of distance learning program, they risked their health and safety by distributing learning materials used by almost 87 percent of public school learners.

“Dahil ang ating mga guro, mga punong-guro, at kawani ng mga paaralan ay nagsisilbing mga frontliners sa pagpapatuloy ng edukasyon, nararapat lamang na mabilang sila sa mga unang makakatanggap ng bakuna laban sa COVID-19. Mahalagang hakbang ito upang matiyak nating ang pagbabalik ng ating mga mag-aaral sa mga paaralan ay magiging ligtas,” Gatchalian said.

As the Department of Education braces for a dry run of limited and localized face-to-face classes in selected schools ahead of the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, Gatchalian reiterated the need to strictly observe health protocols such as physical distancing, the wearing of masks, and regular hand washing.

Schools and local governments should also ensure access to testing and treatment for teachers and non-teaching staff, he added.

The Philippine government earlier said that frontline health workers will be the first priority in the vaccine distribution followed by senior citizens, poor Filipinos and uniformed personnel.

It is looking to roll out its COVID-19 immunization program in 2021 or 2022, and to administer it to at least 70 million Filipinos within three to five years.

Areas with high cases of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) such as Metro Manila, Davao, and Cebu will be prioritized in the distribution of the vaccines once it becomes available.

Sen. Gatchalian pushes for toll holiday over RFID mess

Marje Pelayo   •   December 14, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Sherwin Gatchalian is proposing a toll holiday along the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) until its operators resolved the issues surrounding the implementation of the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) system.

In an interview, Gatchalian said motorists should not be charged a toll after all the inconveniences they experience as they pass the expressway.

Gatchalian who heads the Senate Committee on Public Services has previously suggested a temporary suspension of the cashless toll payment system because of glitches.

“Operators are mandated to put perfect or near-perfect RFID readers. But if it’s not functioning, then why allow the motorists to feel the inconvenience of that imperfection,” the Senator noted. 

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