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NBI automates clearance renewal in RP malls, offices

By Erwin Oliva
First Posted 16:19:00 02/01/2008

Filed Under: Technology (general), Government

MANDALUYONG CITY, Philippines -- The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), through Mega Data Corp., has unveiled its new modern renewal system that uses both biometrics and computer technology.

In an interview, Rafael Garcia IV, president and chief operating officer of Mega Data, said the NBI is now automating the renewal of NBI clearances by providing applicants an electronic card that will be able to store a person's fingerprints and photo within a chip embedded in the card.

NBI clearances are often required by companies before a person is employed locally or abroad. It makes sure that the applicant has no pending criminal records with the NBI.

Garcia said the NBI clearance renewal card (CRC) will replace the paper-based equivalent that people get every time they apply for a new job.

The clearance renewal card, which looks like an automated teller machine card, will be initially available through NBI kiosks in SM Mega Mall, Tutuban Center in Manila, Makati Park Square, Cuevas Mall in Imus, Robinsons Mall in Cebu City and Victoria Plaza in Davao City.

The clearance renewal card is required to operate NBI automated clearance machines (ACMs), according to Rafael Garcia III, CEO of Mega Data Corp., adding that these machines will be deployed soon in 30 malls, and all NBI district, regional and satellite offices nationwide.

Garcia said Mega Data will deploy around 200 ACMs in 150 sites nationwide.

By July 2008, all manual processing of clearances will be replaced by the ACMs, the company executive said. This means that the NBI will replace all manned NBI Clearance kiosks with ACMs.

The ACM is a computer that comes with face-recognition software, a camera, a fingerprint scanner and other components that will do away with the manual processing and payment to acquire an NBI clearance.

As part of the ongoing modernization of the NBI, the CRC and the ACMs are meant to lessen queues of people in kiosks located in malls and the NBI offices. Since the smart card can now store biometric information about individuals, they will only need to go straight to an ACM, pay the required fee, and get the renewed clearance in a few minutes, executives said.

In an NBI kiosk in SM Megamall, Mega Corp. said about 1,300 people are applying for renewals every day. Nationwide, the NBI processes 15,000 to 20,000 renewal applications a day, added Garcia.

Asked if the CRCs can be used as a national identification card for individuals, Owie Haplasca, executive officer of the electronic data processing division of the NBI, said that the CRC is not a national ID but a smart card that will contain biometric information required to operate the agency's ACMs. But he admitted that the idea of storing biometric information on a smart card is the first step to having a permanent identification record of a person. For it to become a national identification card, it would require that the card be linked to a database.

"This is just a card given to those seeking employment," he said during a briefing at the SM Megamall where the NBI and Mega Data Corp. introduced the CRC and the ACM.

Mega Data Corp. is a system integration company of the Mega Group of Computer Companies. Mega Data is also the group behind the renewal system of the Land Transportation Office and the identification card of the Professional Regulation Commission.

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