Nat'l ID bidder questioned

December 07, 2019

THE main proponent of the National Identification System or National ID in the Lower House has expressed concern over the inclusion of a World Bank blacklisted company in the bidding for Phase 2 of the ID program’s implementation.

Rep. Sol Aragones of Laguna said she is wondering how Idemia and FMC, a company involved in databank and personal identification technology that is banned by the World Bank until May of 2020 for “questionable and corrupt practices,” was able to participate in the Phase 2 bidding of the National ID System implementation.

“Although we have passed the law and it is now the purview of PSA and the government, we are still closely monitoring the implementation of the National ID program,”said Aragones.

“We would like to clarify with the concerned agencies how a contractor that is banned from global institutions like the World Bank can be allowed to bid in a domestic project as big and as sensitive as the National ID system,” Aragones stressed.

Phase 2 of the National ID program “entails the development and full operationalization of core technology infrastructure, development of a mass registration ecosystem, use case development, and registration of pre-registered persons,” according to the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) Implementation Plan.

This is the part where biometric and information of the citizens are encoded into the National ID sytem.

Four companies submitted their bid -- NEC&LBLA, Gemalto and Nextix, Dermalog-Microgen-Airspeed, and Idemia and FMC. The highest bidder was NEC&LBLA with a bid of P1,016,782,288,000. The second highest bidder is Gemalto and Nextix at P879,988,888,000 followed by Dermalog-Microgen-Airspeed with P877,999,816,000. The lowest bidder Idemia and FMC gave what experts call a dive bid of P684,000,000,000.
However, World Bank records show Idemia has been censored numerous times. The last issue against Idemia was in 2017 when they were caught engaging in corrupt and collusive practices in Bangladesh. Idemia was also censored in Finland, Denmark and Burkina Faso, a landlocked country in West Africa.

Under World Bank rules, Idemia is barred from doing business with them until May, 28, 2020 when they will be reviewed and decided upon if fit to join the list of World Bank contractors.

Another company, Gemalto and Nextix, is embroiled, in the Smartmatic issue of the Philippines’ automated elections.

All of these companies are involved in the processing of biometric information of individuals to ensure they are who they say they are. Biometric information is what most law enforcement, border control agencies and other national ID systems use to identify individuals.

Earlier President Rodrigo Duterte expressed distrust in the lowest bidder system the government uses in awarding contracts. Duterte said this usually results in substandard equipment and services being delivered. He also noted that dive bids are the most suspicious since it is so cheap.