Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Monday he would talk with Malacañang officials about overturning the President’s veto of the SIM card registration bill.
Sotto said there were two ways to save the bill, which would require SIM cards to be registered before they are activated, and require social media companies to register users under their real names and mobile phone numbers.
Sotto said lawmakers could refile the bill in the next Congress, or the sitting legislators could override the veto.
He said the provision that the President objected to, on the registration of social media accounts, could be challenged before the Supreme Court, which could declare that portion of the law unconstitutional.
A presidential veto may be overturned by a two-thirds of the members of each chamber of Congress.
The principal author of the Senate version of the bill, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, vowed to pursue the bill’s approval as a means to combat fraud.
But he also said there was a need to separate the provision on social media after a more thorough and comprehensive discussion of the issue.
In defending the necessity of SIM card registration, Gatchalian pointed out that criminals have been abusing anonymity to carry out their nefarious activities.
Critics of the bill, however, point out that in countries where similar regulations are in place, a black market for stolen mobile phones soon developed, negating the effects of registration.
They also pointed out that the creation of yet another database would be a security risk and would be open to abuse by state authorities for illegal surveillance.
Tarlac Rep. Victor Yap, one of the primary authors and the sponsor of the House bill, sought clarification “as to what provisions in the enrolled bill infringe upon the freedom of speech and the right to privacy of individuals.”
“Freedom of speech is not an absolute right. The government has the power—nay even the duty to regulate it for the common good of its citizens. There is nothing in the bill that prohibits free speech nor invades the privacy of an individual,” Yap said.
He asked the Office of the President to expound on its veto message.
“What the bill requires is simply the registration of a SIM card number in a person’s social media account and any person can still express their freedom of speech subject to the limitations of our existing laws,” Yap said.