House committee approves national ID system amid security concerns

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The House Committee on Population approved on May 10 the bill pushing for a national identification (ID) system, despite a lawmaker’s reservations with regard to privacy and national security.

The bill states the national ID system, called Filipino Identification System or FilSys, will provide for a single card sufficient for all transactions requiring proof of identification with both the government and the private sector, and will “lower costs, streamline transactions, and provide ease and convenience.”

The bill requires all Filipinos, whether living here or abroad, to register their personal information in the system.

They are to declare the name, photograph, birth date, gender, signature, blood type, and an individual serial number – also known as the Common Reference Number (CRN) – to be issued by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

The supposed tamper-proof ID will also have a smart chip that will contain the person’s biometrics, iris scan, facial image reception code, and other distinguishing features.

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Other government-issued numbers, such as those in the passport, social security, PAGIBIG, voter’s ID, Philhealth and tax identification papers, will also be accessible through the CRN.

Sa pamamagitan nito, isa na lang ang kailangan nating ID at nag-identify tayo na magagamit ito sa iba’t-ibang ahensya ng gobyerno,” Population Committee Chair Sol Aragones said.

[Translation: The ID system will streamline the information, which can be used in different government agencies.]

The ID will be issued for free upon first release.

Those who will falsify information and use the card in unlawful ways face sanctions, ranging from six months to two years imprisonment, and a fine of P50,000 to P500,000, the Committee head said.

Security concerns

Aragones said only the PSA should have access to the information in the IDs.

Sakaling ire-request ng ibang agency ay may approval na kinakailangan talaga. Alam ko naman agam-agam ng iba na baka gamitin ito sa maling impormasyon, may mga safeguard tayo dito,” she added.

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[Translation: There should be approval in case other agencies will request the information. I know there are a lot of apprehensions when it comes to security. We have safeguards here.]

The bill states that data in FilSys cannot be disclosed without the ID holder’s consent except:

  • In cases of accidents or disasters, where the ID holder’s medical history is needed by medical workers
  • When the interest of public health or safety requires the data
  • A court orders the data to be divulged

The bill also said that the PSA, together with the Department of Information and Communications Technology and the National Privacy Commission, must implment measures to protect the data.

However, Gabriela Party-List Rep. Arlene Brosas said in a May 11 press briefing that the data in FilSys could be used for State surveillance or sold to corporations, especially those in the U.S.

Napaka-powerful ng binibigay mo, personal information ang nilalagay kaya marami ang may interest diyan hindi lang militarily, bureaucracy, lahat,” she said.

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[Translation: You are giving something very powerful, personal information is being put in there so many would be interested not just the military and the bureaucracy.]

Baka magkaroon ng third-party data leaks at magamit din sa militarization dahil napakarami nga sa bureaucracy natin ngayon ang military ang nakaupo na hindi naman magbubunga ng ganansya para sa mga maliliit nating mamamayan,” she added.

[Translation: There could be third-party data leaks and the data could be used for militarizaiton because many in the bureaucracy now are from the military, which will not be encouraging for the masses.]

A national ID system was proposed in 1996 when former President Fidel Ramos issued Administrative Order 308, which created the National Computerized Identification Reference System.

However, the Supreme Court struck down the order on the grounds that the policy should have gone through Congress and that the public’s privacy would not be compromised.

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