PHILIPPINE National Police chief, General Camilo Pancratius P. Cascolan has assured law-abiding citizens they have nothing to fear about the National ID System as he stressed that only those who are breaking the law despise it.
“If you are a good citizen, there is nothing to be afraid of. If you are following rules and regulations, for the PNP, if you are not violating rule of law or any violation of human rights, it will be good for you, it will be good for everybody,” Cascolan told newsmen at Camp Crame as the program’s pre-registration process kicked off.
The top cop maintained that only criminals and Enemies of the State fear the system since it would lead to their identification. “Syempre karamihan ng mga natatakot dyan, ‘yan yung mga gumagawa ng masama,” he said.
The PNP has time and time again brushed off concerns on the National ID System saying it would be a potent tool in preventing and combating criminal activities.
Under the system, nine million Filipinos in 32 provinces will be registered this month until December. The selected provinces host most of the 40-percent poorest families in the country but also have low COVID-19 cases.
The 32 provinces are Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, Zambales, Tarlac, Bulacan, Bataan, Cavite, Batangas, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Rizal, Laguna, Quezon, Camarines Sur, Albay, Masbate, Antique, Capiz, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Cebu, Bohol, Leyte, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, and Davao Occidental, Compostela Valley and Tawi-Tawi.
Republic Act No. 11055 or the PhilSys Act, signed by President Duterte in August 2018 sought to harmonize and integrate several government IDs by establishing a single national identification system for all citizens and resident aliens through the collection of basic personal information and biometric data.
Cascolan said he has ordered all concerned police units to help secure the registration process. “Our policemen should always be visible, assist those involved in the registration, maintain peace and order and most importantly, follow health protocols,” he said.
The National ID System has been backed up not only by security officials but even some major critics of the Duterte administration who are one in saying that it is already high time for each and every Filipino to have a national ID which he can use in transacting with government and private institutions particularly during the new normal.
Lawmakers like former PNP chief-turned Senator Panfilo ‘Ping’ M. Lacson and known administration critic Sen. Franklin M. Drilon have said that safeguards are in place to protect the privacy of Filipinos who will get the National ID.
Despite a flurry of criticisms from the Left, President Duterte signed into law the bill that put in place the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) also known as the National ID System in March 2018 to aid in the delivery of government services and reduce fraudulent transactions.
Records will show that prior to that, the Philippines is one of the only nine countries in the world that does not have a national ID system in place yet. In China, the government is reportedly already creating the world’s most powerful facial recognition system to match a citizen’s face with his or her ID photo with great accuracy.
China reportedly plans to digitize its existing national ID card to streamline government processes and promote paperless transactions. At present, China’s national ID card can be used to obtain residence permits and driver’s licenses, open bank accounts, check into hotels, purchase railway tickets, and book ticks for domestic flights.
On the other hand, Malaysia’s national ID card had turned out to be the first government-issued multipurpose smart card and the first “dual interface” ID to be issued in the world. Malaysia’s dual interface card allows the card to be read by physical sensors and used in transactions,. Meanwhile, its advance chip and biometric technology aids users in government and private sector transactions and is also considered a driving license and a travel document, a Rappler report said.
Thailand also has its national identity card being used to check if individuals are eligible for government services and determine the most suitable public health insurance for a citizen based on age, occupation, and civil status. On the other hand, Singapore has already developed a National Digital Identity system to integrate technology in economic and government services.
Apart from this, the National ID will for sure help the Commission on Elections weed out unqualified or so-called ‘ghost voters’ in their list.
Lacson had made it clear that the system would not violate rights to privacy since it would only contain very basic demographic and biometric data of every Filipino citizen and resident alien.
The former PNP chief said there were only two questions being addressed in the system: “Who are you and are you who you claim to be? So, I don’t see how the privacy of an individual may be invaded when it just answers these two basic questions,” he said.
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) would serve as the repository of information, which would include the name, address, date and place of birth and biometric data of the cardholder. However, the agency would not be allowed to disclose these data unless ordered by the court.
Lacson said the Senate wanted the Philippine ID to be foundational which means “each and every Filipino citizen and even resident aliens will be armed with a legal, valid information.” “This is to enable our citizens to transact business with public and private entities with ease and expeditiously and conveniently,” he explained.
As an example, Lacson said that anyone who intends to open a bank account would no longer have to provide two valid IDs for identification and would only have to provide either the Philippine ID or just the Philippine ID system number. In turn, banks would then just need to have the Philippine ID authenticated by the PSA to proceed with the transaction.
Even Senate Minority leader, Sen. Drilon has allayed concerns over the national ID system saying the main goal of the law is to “enhance the delivery of basic services to the public,” including usual transactions with government agencies.
“The law has enough safeguards to protect the sanctity of the individual’s information and protect their right to privacy. It protects against unlawful disclosure of information and punishes those who will subvert the system for unlawful ends,” he explained.
The ID’s new feature will be a Common Reference Number (CRN) which contains “essential information such as full name, address, date and place of birth, sex, civil status, signature, CRN and date of card issuance, along with a recent photo.” Once issued, the ID may be used in transacting will all government offices and honored in private institutions such as banks.