MANILA, Philippines—Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Wednesday (April 20) insisted on the constitutionality of the vetoed SIM Card Registration bill, including the provision that mandates the use of real name and registered SIM cards in creating social media accounts.
In a statement, Drilon said he was confident that the provision on social media, which he said proponents worked hard on, was “constitutional and can withstand judicial scrutiny.” The provision’s intent, Drilon said, was to prevent trolls, scammers and “online bullies” from hiding behind fake names.
“The measure is constitutional. The bill does not in any way limit speech. It does not curtail one’s ability to post on social media. This is not designed to suppress any particular message,” he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte had vetoed the SIM card registration bill because of what was described as an insertion by Drilon of the social media provision. Duterte’s spokespersons said the social media provision was not part of the original version of the bill and needed more thorough study.
Drilon, however, said the provision he inserted in the bill required only the use of a person’s real name and a registered SIM card in creating social media accounts.
“Even a freshman law student can tell that that provision would not violate any constitutional right. They should review their Constitution,” said the opposition senator.
“Is it a prior restraint on free speech? No, it is not. You can still post anytime, anywhere and whatever you want to post. Does it even regulate the time, place or manner of posting? It definitely does not,” he said.
Drilon also dismissed allegations that the inclusion of social media in the bill was a rider and a last-minute insertion.
A rider violates the constitutional provision which requires that a bill passed by Congress should cover only one subject which shall be expressed in its title.
Drilon explained that the bill does not embrace more than one subject as the title was clear: “An Act to Eradicate Mobile Phone, Internet or Electronic Communicated-Aided Terrorism and Criminal Activities, Mandating for this Purpose Ownership Registration of All SIM Cards for Electronic Devices and Social Media Accounts.”
He said the title itself not only reasonably sets the boundaries of the legislation, but also its purpose.
Section 4 of the proposed law is likewise very clear, according to the senator. The section stated that SIM card and social media registration were mandated in “order to deter the proliferation of SIM card, internet, or electronic communication-aided crimes, such as but not limited to: terrorism, text scams, unsolicited, indecent or obscene messages, bank fraud, libel, anonymous online defamation, trolling, hate speech, spread of digital disinformation or fake news.”
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