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Filipino National ID law pushed, but will it pass this time?

Measure would boost the efficiency of government services; Philippines one of the 7 countries in the world without a national ID system

Image Credit: Philippine Senate
The Philippine Senate in session. On March 14, the Philippine Senate passed the Philippine Identification System Act of 2018 after parallel bills calling for a national ID system spent years pending approval by both chambers of Congress (the Senate and House of Representatives)
Gulf News

Manila: A senior Philippine lawmaker is urging Congress to prioritise the passage of a national ID law saying the measure would boost the efficiency of government services and expedite transactions requiring information on a person’s identity.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said the Senate and House of Representatives must swiftly pass measures on the establishment of a national ID system.

“The respective leadership of both chambers have identified Senate Bill No. 15 as a priority measure of the 17th Congress,” Drilon added.

Philippine ID system

Drilon is the author of Senate Bill No. 15 titled “An Act Establishing the Philippine Identification System,” through the use of a universal card for all transactions involving the government.

It aims to streamline the delivery of social services and facilitate transactions requiring a citizen’s personal information.

According to Drilon said the Senate Minority Bloc will support the measure.

Among the government agencies and controlled corporations (GOCCs) that card holders could use the unified card are the Social Security System, the Government Service Insurance System, the Home Development Mutual or Pag-IBIG Fund and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.

The proposed national ID is apart from the new iDOLE, the card issued to overseas Filipino workers by the Department of Labour and Employment.

Currently, the measure is pending before the Committee on Justice and Human Rights chaired by Senator Richard Gordon.

The renewed push for the passage of the national identification card law comes amid the backdrop of reports that some sectors are opposing moves in certain provinces in Central Luzon to issue identification cards to Muslims.

These sectors said such moves are tantamount to discrimination.

This was in light of the ongoing hostilities in Central Mindanao involving the Maute which is being held responsible for terror attacks in Marawi City.

Drilon said the national ID is not about discrimination, but concerns the delivery of services.

The idea of having a National ID System in the Philippines has been proposed many times before — but failed over concerns it might be subject to abuse or hacking and invade citizens’ privacy.

There had been at least four proposed legislations in the Philippine Senate while similar versions were proposed in the lower House of Representatives. 

But the proposed legislations creating a Philippine national ID never gathered enough numbers to turn them into a law in the past. The Philippines is one of the seven countries in the world without a compulsory National ID system.

India was recently taken off that list after the country with about 1.2 billion inhabitants adopted the biometric identifier programme called Aadhaar — Hindi for “foundation”. 

Common reference number

Senator Drilon said even President Rodrigo Duterte is embracing the national ID proposal.

Drilon took note of a statement made by Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella saying that “there should be a national ID.”

He said that if enacted into law, a Common Reference Number (CRN) will be given to all Filipinos containing essential information such as:

Full name
Date/place of birth 
Date of card issuance

The measure specifically provides that any registered individual would only need to present a Filipino ID Card for identification purposes in all government transactions, especially those requiring the disclosure of identity, status, birth and other personal details.

The ID will also be honoured when transacting with certain private institutions, like banks, Drilon noted.

Filipinos living and working abroad can register at embassy or consular offices in their countries of location to get their assigned CRN.