Senator Grace Poe vowed to advance the interest of millions of mobile prepaid subscribers in the country as she pressed for longer validity periods for prepaid loads.
Poe, chairperson of the Senate committee on public services, said she is set to call for technical working group meetings to thresh out concerns surrounding prepaid load and other related issues.
The advocacy group democracy.net.ph has proposed to set “dormancy periods” in which a SIM card without any call, text or data transactions for a year will be considered dormant and “dormancy deductions” in which from the time a SIM card is considered dormant, one credit will be deducted per day until the credits are zeroed out and the SIM card can finally be deactivated.
“We have to consider what is best for the highest interest of our consumers,” said the legislator, adding that the current rules issued in 2009 which set a minimum validity of three days is quite brief.
“Ang mga mahihirap na kadalasang walang kapasidad na bumili nang mas mahal na load ay napupwersang bumili nang paunti-unting load sa maliit na halaga para lamang ma-maintain na active ang kanilang SIM card,” the lawmaker added.
During the hearing, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) said the setting aside of the expiry period is feasible and suggested that this can be done based on a 17-year-old memorandum circular.
Under NTC Memorandum Circular No. 03-07-2009, loads with higher values will have longer expiration or validity periods. Credits worth P10 or lower will be valid for three days from the previous one-day expiration. Loads more than P10 up to P50 can be used for 15 days while credits worth more than P50 up to P100 will remain valid for 30 days. Loads more than P100 to P150 will expire at the end of 45 days while credits of more than P150 to P250 will last for 60 days. More than P250 to P300 will remain valid for 75 days while credits worth more than P300 will last for 120 days.
The committee tackled Senate Bill No. 848 or the proposed Prepaid Load Protection Act filed by Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto that seeks to impose penalties and fines for prohibited acts such as imposition of an expiration period on the validity of unused prepaid call and text cards, forfeiture of load credits stored on an active prepaid phone account via prepaid call and text card or electronic transfer, and refusal to give a refund on any prepaid subscriber whose load credits were forfeited without any valid cause. A fine ranging from P100,000 to P1 million or imprisonment from two to six years or both shall be imposed on any director, officer, employee or agent of a telecommunications company providing prepaid services who shall be convicted of violating any of the prohibited acts. If the violation was committed by or in the interest of a juridical person duly licensed to engage in business in the Philippines, penalties of P500,000, suspension of license to engage in business for 30 days and immediate revocation of license to engage in business shall be imposed.