New bills from anti-fake news to 14th-month pay introduced by Sotto awaits approval
August 19, 2021 10:43 AM
Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III has introduced three bills to address the spread of fake news online, to provide financial bonuses to workers, and to require registration upon SIM card purchase.
“It shall be declared the policy of the State to protect the public from any misleading or false information that is being published and has become prevalent on the internet.”
Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III introduced three bills, namely, the Anti-False Content Act (or Senate Bill No. 9), 14th Month Pay Law (or Senate Bill No. 10), and the SIM Card Registration Act (Senate Bill No. 236).
Anti-False Content Act
SB No. 9 seeks to penalize individuals who spread fake news on online platforms. The measure reads, “It shall be declared the policy of the State to protect the public from any misleading or false information that is being published and has become prevalent on the internet.”
In the explanatory note, Sotto stated an instance during the midterm elections, wherein a seemingly convincing video showing pre-shaded ballots went viral, leading people to question the integrity of the country’s polling systems. In the end, the video was proven to be fake and staged.
The Senate chief continued, “While it is true that freedom of expression and the press are protected rights, it is not absolute under all circumstances. The use of these rights to cause disinformation and division is an abuse of democracy.”
More than anything, the bill, according to Sotto, promotes “responsible use of the internet”.
14th Month Pay Law
Sotto introduced SB No. 10, requiring employers in the private sector to give their workers a 14th-month pay.
In the bill’s explanatory note, Sotto wrote, “The 13th-month pay is gobbled up by Christmas expenses. We need extra earnings in the middle of the year to help in school and medical expenses. Health and education needs of the ordinary Filipino must be
assisted by our government.”
The measure seeks to cover all non-government employees, regardless of their status or position, provided that they “have worked at least one month during the calendar year”.
According to the bill, the 13th-month pay will be given not later than June 14th, while the 14th-month pay will be given not later than December 24th. The minimum amount of the 14th-month pay cannot be less than 1/12 of the employee’s total basic salary within the year.
SIM Card Registration Act
SB No. 236 is an act seeking “to eradicate mobile phone-aided terrorism and criminal activities mandating for this purpose ownership registration of all prepaid SIM cards for cellular phones”.
The reason behind introducing this measure, according to Sotto’s explanatory note, is because “it has become a common practice for modern-day criminals and terrorists to take advantage of the mobile phone technology in carrying out their illegal activities, particularly phones using prepaid SIM cards due to their nature of being unregistered and untraceable.”
The bill proposes that buyers of prepaid SIM cards should submit an accomplished owner’s registration form, a government-issued ID, or any other valid ID or document that clearly states the individual’s identity. It also noted that a registered SIM card owner should at least be fifteen years old.
Sotto further explained, “Criminal use of wireless technology is a global problem, in other countries wherein the use of prepaid mobile lines are likewise rampant, have started requiring not only ownership registration but also mandating service providers to integrate security devices to counter criminal activities.”