MANILA, Philippines–The “National ID System Bill,” which is now subject to the go-signal of the House of Representatives, is a threat to the privacy of the country’s citizens, a party-list lawmaker said on Wednesday.
House Bill 5060 – which was approved by a joint panel composed of the committees on revision of laws and on appropriations on Friday – poses “a threat to the security of personal information” of private citizens, ccording to Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate.
“A national ID system will make it mandatory for all to submit personal information to be aggregated into a single dossier which, if compromised, places the Filipino people at very high personal risk,” Zarate stressed in a statement.
He cited that if even the automated election process is largely considered unreliable, “what more of the personal information of every Filipino?” he said.Committee chair
Marlyn Primicias-Agabas and appropriations committee chair Isidro Ungab explained that the goal of the ID system is to consolidate all existing forms of government identification into “one integrated and efficient identification body. Under the bill, the Philippine Statistics Authority and the Department of Foreign Affairs will be responsible for the creation and maintenance of a “Filipino Citizen Registry.”
Those in favor of the bill said that the new national ID system “will institutionalize a national information card for all Filipinos that would ensure facilitation and streamline government transactions, and help promote a progressive society through an efficient delivery of basic services.”
Zarate, however, said that despite the many good intentions and objectives of the bill, the risks are greater still.
“Anyone can cite all the good intentions this bill may have, but it lacks foresight. Can our current systems, already weighed down with problems, bear up sufficiently under the requirements of such an implementation involving sensitive personal information? We cannot risk our people’s security to misaddress the problem of bureaucratic inefficiency,” he argued.
“The bill looks up to the national ID systems of other countries such as the US, but we all know about the horror stories of CIA [Central Intelligence Agency] surveillance and mishandling,” he added, pointing out that the biggest challenge to the bill is the issue of security.
This is not the first time the government has sought to establish a national ID system. Twice, there were efforts to launch similar programs –during the Ramos and the Macapagal-Arroyo administrations – but both attempts failed.