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National ID signed into law; privacy fears allayed

President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law Monday a bill seeking to establish a single national identification system in the country.

“Today, I... signed the Philippine Identification System Act, a measure that will establish a single national identification system that will promote good governance, enhance governmental transactions, and create a more conducive environment for trade and commerce to thrive,” said Duterte in his speech during the presentation of the signed Republic Act no. 11054 or the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao at the Malacañan Palace.

The President asked the public to support the Philippine ID act as it seeks to promote the efficient delivery of services to the people through a single ID that will be issued to all citizens and resident aliens.

“This ID, which will be called the ‘Phil-ID,’ will dispense with the need to present multiple IDs for different [government] transactions,” said Duterte, adding that the national ID system also reduces corruption, curtails bureaucratic red tape, promotes the ease of doing business, averts fraudulent transactions, strengthens financial inclusion, and creates a more secure environment for the Filipinos.

Duterte noted that past administrations have already tried to come up with a national ID system, but they all failed to implement the measure because of the criticisms from several groups worried about data privacy and security.

The President, however, assured public apprehension.

“The information that will be included in the Phil-ID will not be any different from the information already in the possession of the Philippine Statistics Authority or the former National Statistics Office, Government Service Insurance System, PhilHealth, Pag-IBIG Fund, Commission on Elections, and other agencies that gather personal data,” said Duterte, adding that the Philippine Statistics Authority will work closely with the National Privacy Commission, the Department of Information and Communications Technology, and the multi-agency PhilSystem Policy and Coordination Council to address privacy and security concerns.

“There is, therefore, no basis at all for the apprehensions about the Phil-ID, unless of course that fear is based on anything that borders [on the] illegal. If at all, the Phil-ID will even aid in our drive against the social menaces of poverty, corruption, and criminal issues, as well as terrorism and violent extremism,” Duterte said.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said the Phil-ID has three fundamental objectives.

“Number one, promote national security because we will have a database of all Filipinos. Number two, this will prevent identity theft. And number three, this will promote better delivery of goods and services from the government to the people,” said Roque in a press briefing in Malita, Davao Occidental.

“I would like to assure the people that unlike the National ID Bill which was earlier declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court because there were no safeguards to protect the database; 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,” Roque said.

The Phil-ID is the Duterte administration’s central identification platform aiming to ease and simplify both public and private services.

Under this law, the Phil-ID will collect the demographic data of every Filipino such as full name, sex, date of birth, blood type, home address, and citizenship. Putting marital status, phone numbers, and even e-mail addresses is optional.

Additional details will also be recorded such as the biometric information, front-facing photograph, full set of fingerprints, other identifiable features, and even an iris scan.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon on Monday lauded the signing into law of the Philippine Identification System Act to ensure efficient delivery of service and ease transactions with government agencies.

“I wish to thank the President for signing it into law,” said Drilon, the law’s principal author.

Drilon said that with a national ID system in place, the identification of individuals seeking basic services from the government would be made faster and more accurate.

The law consolidates all existing government-initiated identification systems into an integrated and efficient identification system for citizens of the Philippines in order to help improve and speed up the delivery of public services in the country, Drilon said.

Drilon also said the law would not affect data privacy as the pertinent provisions of the Data Privacy Act will still apply. With Macon Ramos-Araneta

Topics: President Rodrigo Duterte , national identification system , Philippine Identification System Act
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