Bill with Safeguards Already Awaiting Passage

If Mrs. Arroyo is serious in having a no-nonsense national ID system, all she has to do is certify an existing bill that provides the needed safeguards for it. 

Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson said Tuesday that Senate Bill 196, which he filed at the start of the 14th Congress last year, provides for a reference card system that will simplify transactions with government agencies while protecting citizens from crime and terrorism.

“A national ID system is a great benefit, with the proper safeguards and the right implementation. If Mrs. Arroyo is serious about having a national ID system benefit the people, she merely has to certify the bill I filed as urgent,” Lacson said.

He said the national ID is one effort that deserves Filipinos’ full support. He said he had advocated such a program during his stint as PNP chief, and filed a bill for such a national ID system as early as 2004.

At the start of the 14th Congress last year, Lacson filed Senate Bill 196, which aims to institute a national reference card system and create the National Registration Coordinating Commission.

“By providing one single code to each and every citizen of the Philippines at birth and a reference card carrying their number, among other information at an age when a person may begin to actively participate in society – we not only help a person integrate himself into our society, but we also simplify any transaction that the person may have with the various agencies of government as well as with private entities,” he said in his bill.

“Moreover, the quantum leaps in the tides of criminality and the continuing challenge of terrorism have rendered the need for a national identification system urgent. In the context of efforts to fight criminality, terrorism and lawlessness, the proposed national reference card shall help facilitate the processes of apprehension and prosecution of those who have committed violations of the law,” he added.

Besides, he said other countries such as Brazil, Germany and Italy have similar ID systems.

Under Senate Bill 196, all citizens are assigned a reference number upon birth and issued a National Reference Card free of charge at age 18, in a manner prescribed by the National Registration Coordinating Commission.

The card, which shall contain security features, contains the bearer’s name, address, blood type and next-of-kin. The proposed measure limits the number of persons who have access to the data on the card, which will be the only official identification of the bearer in dealing with government agencies and applying for driver’s license, passport, marriage license, death certificate, and business permits.

“Failure to present the card shall not be a ground to deny him or her of basic services, but he/she will be subjected to the usual rigid identification and verification procedure,” Lacson said.

On the other hand, penalties of up to six years await those who submit fake data, while a penalty of P20,000 awaits those who refuse to accept, acknowledge or recognize the card. A penalty of P50,000 awaits those involved in the unauthorized disclosure of data.