MANILA – Complaints about the disappearance of prepaid mobile loads – or what consumer activists call “nakaw load” – will be addressed in a Senate hearing on Monday (March 5), with lead prober Sen. Bam Aquino saying the investigation is meant both to address the problem and prevent it from happening in the future.
He earlier filed Senate Resolution No. 595, directing the Committee on Science and Technology to determine the capacity and readiness of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), other relevant government agencies and regulators to implement rules to protect prepaid mobile subscribers.
Expected to attend the hearing are representatives from consumer groups, IT advocacy groups, DICT, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and telecommunication companies Smart Communications, Globe Telecom and PLDT.
As the country’s primary agency for communications technology, the DICT is mandated under Republic Act No. 10844 or the DICT Act of 2015 to provide oversight over agencies governing and regulating ICT sector and ensure consumer protection and welfare, Sen. Bam said.
The regulator NTC puts the number of the country’s prepaid subscribers at 126 million, or 97 percent of the total 130 million mobile phone owners.
“Huwag natin hayaang manakawan ng pera ang ating mga kababayan [Let’s not let our people be victims of theft]. We cannot ignore these consumer reports of the disappearance of prepaid mobile credits, including mischarges, hidden charges and errors in opt out mechanisms,” said Aquino, chairman of the Committee on Science and Technology.
With the Department of Trade and Industry and the NTC both mandated to protect consumers of prepaid mobile credits, it is important that these two agencies are well-coordinated and must sufficiently facilitate and address consumer complaints, the senator added.
“Let’s check and ensure that our government agencies and regulators are equipped with the systems, equipment and technical capacity to determine the compliance of telcos.”
In addition, the senator said, concerned government agencies such as the DTI and NTC should have the capacity to respond to complaint related to the abrupt expiration or disappearance of prepaid mobile credits.
Aquino is the principal sponsor and a co-author of Republic Act 10929 or the Free Internet in Public Places Act.