Malacañang on Monday assured Filipinos the national identification system set to be implemented by the Duterte government would be secure from security breaches and would curb red tape.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) Act into law on Monday in Malacañang, saying it would protect Filipinos from “social menaces.”
“This will not just enhance [administration and governance] but reduce corruption, curtail bureaucratic red tape and promote the ease of doing business. It will also avert fraudulent transactions, strengthen financial inclusion and create a more secure environment for our people,” he said.
Duterte urged Filipinos to support the PhilSys and not feel threatened by it, because the information posted there would “not be any different” from the information already with the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) and other government agencies that had issued IDs.
The PSA will also work closely with the National Privacy Commission, the Department of Information and Communications Technology and the multi-agency PhilSystem Policy and Coordination Council, Duterte said.
“There is therefore no basis at all for the apprehension about the Phil ID unless that fear is based on anything that borders on the illegal. If at all, the [national] ID will even aid the drive against social menaces — poverty, corruption, criminal issues as well as terrorism and violent extremism,” he said.
The national ID system was first proposed during the Ramos administration through Executive Order (EO) 308. It did not push though after the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional for lack of legislation.
Another attempt was made during the term of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo through EO 420, synchronizing all government-issued IDs and calling it the Unified Multi-Purpose Identification System (UMID).
The UMID is still being issued by select government agencies but does not serve as a national ID.
This time, the PhilSys law would be deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court, Malacañang said.
In a news briefing, Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said there would be a safeguard to protect the people from security issues.
“I would like to assure the people [this will be] unlike the National ID Bill which was earlier declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in Ople vs the Executive Secretary, because there were no safeguards to protect the database,” Roque said.
“This time around, there is a privacy law and in the law itself it is specified that government has the obligation to protect the data gathered because of the National ID System. That’s why we are confident that this time around it will pass the test of constitutionality,” Roque added.
Fingerprints, iris scans
Under the law, the government will be able to start issuing national IDs containing basic details of the holder, such as name, sex, birth date, birthplace, address and nationality.
The card will also contain biometric information of the holder. The law authorizes the collection of photographs, fingerprints, and iris scans as determined by the Implementing Rules and Regulations.
The collection of data on marital status, mobile number and email address, however, is optional.
“For the ordinary Juan de la Cruz, the signing of this act means that he will no longer have to present multiple identification cards simply to prove his identity. This streamlining of information makes it likewise harder to commit identity theft or fraud,” Roque said.
‘Like the cedula’
Access to government services should significantly improve with the national identification system law, a lawmaker said.
Rep. Sol Aragones of Laguna issued the statement moments after Duterte signed the national ID system into law.
“This is a landmark legislation. We won’t be asked to present multiple government-issued IDs for any transaction anymore. Disadvantaged individuals previously unable to access support and assistance from the government can now have something to count on, in such a small package that not only fits in a bag, but also fits in a wallet,” Aragones, a former journalist, said in a statement.
But for Rep. Sarah Elago of Kabataan party-list, the national ID system law should be condemned because it is aimed at suppressing dissent and reminiscent of the cedula system that the Spanish colonizers used to control the movement of people and suppress their democratic rights.
“In the hands of [President Rodrigo] Duterte, the national ID system is bound to be a weapon of suppression, mass monitoring and surveillance to track everyone’s movement, if not bribery and arm-twisting on Duterte’s critics and dissenters. This is an attack on the civil and political rights of the Filipinos,” Elago said in a statement.
“If the priority of government is to provide everyone with free public health, free education, free public housing, public transportation and so on, there is no need for a national ID system for the people to benefit from these,” Elago added.
with LLANESCA T. PANTI