The House of Representatives has approved a bill seeking to establish a national identification (ID) system, with 142 voting in favor and seven against.
If House Bill 6221 (An Act Establishing the Filipino Identification System) is signed into law, the measure would mandate Filipinos, upon reaching the age of 18, to apply for a national ID that would carry the holder’s personal data.
The bill provides “[t]hat such data shall be limited to the extent necessary for the purpose or function” of the card, “as determined by the PSA [Philippine Statistics Authority), in coordination with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the National Privacy Commission (NPC) and other implementing agencies.”
The ID “shall serve as the official government-issued identification document of a cardholder in dealing with national government agencies, local government units (LGUs), government-owned or -controlled corporations (GOCCs), and government financial institutions (GFIs).
Former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said the proposed measure would help address the issue of red tape in government and combat peace and order problems.
“I am delighted that the House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading our bill on a National ID system. This will go a long way toward addressing one of the causes of red tape in our bureaucracy and the costly redundancies that Filipinos have to go through just to prove their identities,” Arroyo said in a statement issued on Friday.
“Moreover, this proposed law will also help in combating terrorism and other peace and order problems, since every Filipino 18 years old and above shall register under the system. I hope that the Senate passes its own bill on the ID system so we can start working to harmonize the two versions,” she added.
Under the bill, personal data in the database shall be limited to, among others, the person’s full name (as well as that of his father and mother), date and place of birth, permanent address, email address, mobile number, biometrics information, height, weight, distinguishing features, “other personal circumstances,” “sensitive personal information of an individual as provided in Sec. 4 of this Act,” and “other sensitive personal information not previously specified.”
The other personal circumstances referred to were the numbers for voter’s identification, passport, tax identification, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation membership, Professional Regulation Commission registration, Government Service Insurance System, Social Security System, Home Development Mutual Fund membership, or driver’s license.
Meanwhile, sensitive personal information refers to data on a person’s biometrics; “race or ethnic origin, marital status, age, color, and religious, philosophical or political affiliations;” “current health, education and genetic records,” and; “record of any proceeding on any offense committed or alleged to have been committed by an individual, the disposal of such proceedings, or the sentence of any court on such proceedings,” among others.
According to Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, however, the proposal was against the Constitution, which was why he voted against the bill.
“Ginoong Speaker, ‘No’ ang boto ng representasyong ito sa panukalang National ID System. Sa pagsusuri ng Bayan Muna at mga pangkat ng IT professionals sa panukalang batas na ito, naging malinaw para sa amin na ito ay labag sa Saligang Batas, ilalagay sa panganib ang seguridad ng taumbayan, at nagbibigay ng mas malawak pang puwang upang supilin ang karapatan ng mamamayan,” Zarate said.
(Mr. Speaker, this representation votes no on the proposed National ID System. Upon analysis by Bayan Muna and the groups of IT professionals on this proposed measure, it became clear to us that this is contrary to the Constitution, which will put the people’s security in danger, and will give a wider leeway for quelling the rights of citizens.)
“Dapat lamang tayong mabahala kung saan gagamitin ang ating mga impormasyon (It is only right that we be concerned over where our information will be used),” he said.
He added that with increasing cases of supposed extrajudicial killings and other alleged human rights violations, “ang paggamit ng National ID system laban sa mga aktibista at sa mga progresibo ay hindi malayong mangyari (the use of the National ID system against activists and progressives is not far-fetched.)
Another lawmaker who voted against the bill was ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro.
“Ang kailangan ay paramihin at pondohan ng sapat ang mga ospital, eskwelahan, at iba pang imprastraktura na nagbibigay ng direktang serbisyo sa mamamayan, at siguruhing meron ang mga ito hanggang sa pinakadulo, pinakamataas, at pinakaliblib na barangay,” she added.
(What is needed is to build more and to adequately fund hospitals, schools, and other infrastructure that would provide direct services to citizens, and ensure that these can be found even in the farthest, highest, and secluded villages.)