Sotto asks NTC to probe continued use of mobile SMS in spreading lies
MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Monday pressed the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to investigate and immediately stop the persistent use of the Short Messaging Service (SMS), which is commonly known as “texting”, as a black propaganda tool to spread lies against personalities or groups.
“The people or groups behind text scams are able to access the mobile phone numbers of individuals. Paanong nakakapag-text sila sa mga phone numbers ng iba’t ibang telcos? [How can text messages be sent to phone numbers subscribed under different telcos?]” Sotto said in a statement.
“Paano nila nakuha ang mga phone numbers? May kakuntsaba ba sila sa loob? Internal job ba ito? Kailangang sagutin ito ng NTC at ng mga telcos natin [How are they able to secure phone numbers? Are they in collusion with someone from the inside? The NTC and our telcos need to answer this],” he added.
Sotto further urged the NTC to exercise its regulatory power over the country’s telecommunication firms and order them to stop the continued use of text messaging as an instrument to spread disinformation.
The Senate president, who is running for vice president in the May 9 elections, issued the call amid circulating text messages alleging that he and reelectionist Senator Richard Gordon pressured their colleagues to sign the Senate blue ribbon committee’s draft partial report on its investigation of the government’s use of pandemic funds.
READ: Gordon: 8 senators, so far, have signed Senate panel’s Pharmally report
According to the Senate blue ribbon committee’s draft partial report, President Rodrigo Duterte “betrayed the public trust” in the government’s supply deals with Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp.
The circulating text message states: “No to Gordon & sotto pressuring other senators to sign their blue ribbon sham report. Continuing their TRIAL BY PUBLICITY IN AID OF ELECTION! MGA EPAL!”
“Trabaho ng NTC na siguruhin ang integridad ng ating telecommunication industry. Paanong nakakalusot ang mga scam na tulad nito? Paulit-ulit na lang ito,” Sotto pointed out.
(It is the job of the NTC to ensure the integrity of our telecommunication industry. How can scams like this happen? This has been a recurring problem.)
“Wala bang ginagawa ang NTC at ang mga telcos natin kung kaya’t tuloy-tuloy ang business nitong mga scammers na ito? Nananawagan ako sa NTC na mabilisang aksyunan at alamin kung paanong mapapahinto ang pagkalat ng mga scam tulad nito,” he added.
(Is the NTC and our telcos doing nothing that’s why this business of scammers continues to happen? I am calling on the NTC to quickly act on this and determine how this scam can be stopped.)
In 2021, the NTC ordered Facebook and e-commerce companies Lazada and Shopee to immediately stop selling text blast machines, saying this violates the law.
READ: Text blasting machines illicitly sold; ‘weaponized’ by pols
This, after an October 10 Inquirer report revealed that illegal radio gear such as text blast machines are widely available in the said platforms and are supposedly being used by some politicians or political groups to boost their campaign for the 2022 elections.
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