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Lawmaker revives national ID bill

Representative Al Francis Bichara. Photo from congress.gov.ph

MANILA, Philippines—A congressman has filed a bill calling for a national identification system covering Filipino citizens here and abroad.

Albay Rep. Al Francis Bichara’s proposal revives the old debate on whether or not there should be such a system in the country, amid fears of possible violations against a card-holder’s privacy.

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Bichara acknowledged the “stiff opposition” that could come from human rights groups concerned that a unified identification program “might be used by the State to violate the rights of individuals.”

“To assuage this fear, the proposed law shall ensure that any information under the system will not be made available to third parties or entities but only under certain exceptional circumstances,” he said in a statement.

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Under House Bill No. 11, citizens would be issued “Filipino Identification Cards” that could “store at least the biometric data of the individual cardholder.”  The so-called “Filipino ID” would be valid for 10 years and could be renewed.

“This is one practical and doable way to facilitate and streamline government transactions,” Bichara said in a statement.

As a safeguard, “any information given in the system shall be considered as privileged and cannot be used as evidence against the holder in any criminal proceedings,” he added.

“I am confident that the inclusion of safety provisions will assure certain sectors that the ID card system will never be used by the State to blackmail its citizens,” he said.

Bichara promised that the IDs would make use of “tamper-proof security material to protect the identity of cardholders from unwarranted and unauthorized access.”

If passed into the law, the measure would allow citizens to get their IDs for free “as part of the government social service responsibility.” But cardholders would have to pay for subsequent renewals.

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TAGS: Albay Rep. Al Francis Bichara, ID bill, national identification system
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