National ID System Tops Lacson’s Accomplishment List in 3rd Regular Session

A long hoped-for national ID system that will facilitate the delivery of basic government services while helping fight crime and terrorism.

Such a system, provided for by Republic Act 11055, is the landmark accomplishment of Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson during the first few months of the Senate’s third regular session.

RA 11055, which President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law Aug. 6, harmonizes and integrates some 33 government ID cards into a single system.

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“We finally have a law that breaks the formidable barriers between government and the downtrodden and the poor due to the lack of identification,” said Lacson, a perennial author of the measure since his first term as senator in 2001.

The measure, which institutes a single official identification for all citizens and foreign residents in the Philippines, finally saw the light of day after more than 20 years, where it encountered opposition from several groups over issues such as privacy.

Lacson, who headed the Philippine National Police from 1999 to 2001, said the National ID system could help deter criminality and terrorism by facilitating the processes of apprehension and prosecution.

Under the law, a foundational ID system dubbed PhilSys will be in place. It will have three components: the PhilSys Number (PSN), PhilID and PhilSys Registry.

Other measures

Meanwhile, a bill sponsored by Lacson providing for a rank classification system in the PNP was passed on third reading in the Senate last Oct. 8.

Senate Bill 2031 seeks a more common rank nomenclature to standardize the way law enforcers are called.

[UPDATE: SB 2031 has been signed into law as Republic Act 11200.]

“This measure is geared towards our collective pursuit of eliminating confusion on how our law enforcers must be addressed and, ultimately bringing our policemen closer to the populace,” Lacson said.

He also emphasized the need for such a rank classification system for the PNP to coordinate better with other law enforcement agencies in operations against crime and terrorism.

“As hyperbolic as it may sound, we cannot afford any delay in coordination in counter-terrorism operations and operations against other threats to national security. You and I would agree that a split second matters if the safety and lives of our people are at stake,” he said.

“Experiences both of our policemen and soldiers tell us that unnecessary lags occur when one still finds it necessary to check who his or her counterpart from the police or military is,” he added.

Lacson also sponsored what is now Republic Act 11053, The Anti-Hazing Law of 2018. The law was signed last June 29, shortly before the Third Regular Session opened.

With the law, which imposes penalties including reclusion perpetua and up to P3 million in fines, Lacson said there should be no more repeat of the fatal hazing of Horacio “Atio” Castillo III in September 2017.

The heavier penalties stemmed from hearings of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs chaired by Lacson. The investigation found Castillo died from injuries during hazing by the Aegis Juris fraternity.

Also, Lacson will continue pushing for the passage of Senate Bill 1956, the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2018, which gives government stronger teeth against the threat of terrorism.

The bill enhances the 11-year-old Human Security Act of 2007 with provisions on foreign terrorists and additional predicate crimes.

Earlier measures that Lacson authored or sponsored that were passed into law in the 17th Congress include:

RA 10973, Restoring the Subpoena Powers of the Philippine National Police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group
RA 10969, The Free Irrigation Law
RA 10927, Amending the Anti-Money Laundering Act to Include Casinos as ‘Covered Persons’