Belmonte files national ID system bill

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 11 2016 04:07 PM

Quezon City Representative Sonny Belmonte. File Photo

MANILA – Quezon City Representative Sonny Belmonte has revived a proposal to establish a national identification system for the country.

House Bill 12 is an act establishing a Filipino identification system. The ID system shall provide official identification of all citizens of the country through the issuance of a Filipino ID card and shall gradually convert and consolidate all existing government-initiated identification systems into one integrated and efficient identification system.

The Filipino ID card shall be mandatory and shall be valid for life. It shall only be replaced when a child reaches the age of 18, when there is a change in name and family like in a marriage, or for lost or destroyed ID card.

Under the proposed measure, Filipinos get to renew their ID free of charge when they reach the age of 60. It shall have the imprinted photograph, name, birth date, genderm date of issue, signature of the owner, the corresponding individual serial number issued by the Philippine Statistics Authority and other data as necessary.

The ID shall have the capability to store at least the biometric data of the cardholder. The initial application shall be free of charge. Replacements shall be paid by the cardholder.

The Philippine Statistics Authority shall implement this for Filipinos in the country, while the Department of Foreign Affairs will handle the ID of Filipinos overseas.

The ID shall be used for the application of the passport and drivers' licenses, filing of applications for any services and benefits from the Government Services Insurance System (GSIS), the Social Security System (SSS), PhilHealth, Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF), proof of identity, attainment of benefits and privileges for senior citizens, and voting identification.

The proposed law also guarantees protection against unlawful disclosure of information. Information may be disclosed only upon the following conditions: the authorization of the cardholder, the event of accident disaster or fortuitous events, in the interest of public health and safety and the order of a competent court.

The use of false information may be penalized with a fine of as much as half a million pesos and jail time of as long as 2 years.

In a statement, Belmonte said HB 12 or the Filipino Identification System Bill will provide official identification of all citizens of the Philippines through the issuance of the Filipino ID card.

Belmonte said the Philippines is one of only nine countries in the world without a national ID system, and the bill seeks to address this deficiency and institutionalize the Filipino ID system to improve government services and limit red tape in government transactions.

"The national identification card will lower costs, streamline transactions, and provide ease and convenience," Belmonte said.

The measure requires all Filipinos whether residing in the Philippines or abroad to register personal information required by the ID system, and upon application shall be issued a non-transferrable Filipino ID card with an ID number that shall be valid for life.

The Filipino ID card shall be honored in transactions requiring the identity, status, birth and all other personal circumstances, including application for passport, driver's license; applications for any services and benefits offered by the GSIS, SSS, PhilHealth, HDMF; and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers has a separate bill that seeks to establish and institutionalize the "Philippine National Identification System", which shall be called "FilCard".

Barbers said the system aims to facilitate, streamline and simplify the processes in government and private transactions by Filipino individuals.

It will consolidate many existing government-issued identification cards into one-integrated, efficient ID system. The ID may contain the biometric data and SSS or GSIS membership number among other possible features, that may be used to facilitate transactions in both government and the private sectors.

"The Philippine National Identification System is the most practical, economical and progressive social tool which shall be made available for free to all Filipino citizens, residing both here and abroad, who deserve to be extended proper and efficient government service. The ID card, which shall be known as the FilCard shall be made of tamper proof security material with capability to store the biometric and other important data of the individual cardholder, and may be updated regularly," Barbers said.

"Contrary to some beliefs, there is no need to fear this measure because its only purpose is to consolidate the cardholder's data which are already contained in other government IDs and documents so that we could do away with so many other IDs and at the same time provide identification to those who do not have access to government issued IDs, such as the minors and the unemployed. No invasion of privacy will occur and no violation of due process will happen since no other unwarranted data will be featured in this ID. The biometrics alone can already identify the person, enough to warrant service from the government and private sectors," he added.

"In cases however, where incriminating data appear in the computers and databases of the transacting offices based on the identification of the person as contained in the FilCard, it is by no means a product of this system but a consequence of the person's own personal activities which will normally be recorded by the proper authorities and sent out to all government agencies, as a matter of fact and information," Barbers further said.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate's group has been rejecting this proposal since time immemorial.

"It will even violate the right to privacy of our people. Dagdag gastos lang ito taliwas sa sinabi ni Pangulong Duterte to simplify things,'' Zarate said.

''Hindi na kailangan ng national ID system. Sabi ko ang dami dami na natin ID. Are they saying if I have a national ID yun na din drivers license? What will happen to our driver's license, yun bang voter's ID ko ba papalitan ng national ID? Eh 'di naman lahat boboto, hindi lahat magmamaneho. We're just creating an additional layer of expenses."

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, author of a Senate bill on the national ID system, however disputed this observation.

"It won't violate privacy rights because access to the database will be limited to authorized government agencies with the necessary penal provisions in case of misuse and abuse,'' he said.

Trillanes explained his proposal's rationale is "for us to have a centralized database of basic and biometric information for all Filipino citizens and be the primary identification card for all transactions. It will facilitate the delivery of social services and also be the backbone of our anti-crime campaign."

In his inaugural address, President Duterte said, "Therefore, I direct all department secretaries and the heads of agencies to reduce requirements and the processing time of all applications, [applause] from the submission to the release. I order all department secretaries and heads of agencies to remove redundant requirements and compliance with one department or agency, shall be accepted as sufficient for all."