By Genalyn Kabiling
It is time to “get our act together” and support the proposed national identification system to help streamline public and private transactions and protect the nation from security threats, a Malacañang official said recently.
Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar has urged the public to trust the government in setting up a single national ID database as he dispelled concerns it might violate the right to privacy.
“I think the national ID system is very good for us Filipinos. Siguro mayroong mga kababayan natin na ayaw din sapagka’t ang mga rason nila iyong kanilang privacy, etc (Some of countrymen might oppose it due to privacy concerns etc.) but we just have to trust the government,” he said in a recent radio interview.
“Talagang panahon na talaga na (It’s really time that) we must all get our act together,” he added.
Andanar acknowledged that it was natural for some people to worry about the national ID system due to the bitter experience during the martial law period.
But the Palace official noted that the country now faces challenges such as terrorism and violent extremism, adding that national ID system would help protect people from these crossborder threats. With the ID system, he noted that the government could verify the identities of the people.
“We also have to accept the fact na bago na iyong reality ng ating lipunan ngayon. Mayroon tayong mga challenges na kailangan nating ma-solve tulad nga ng terrorism, violent extremism (But we have to accept the fact that reality of our society has changed. We have challenges we need to solve such as terrorism, violent extremism),” he said.
“Kung lahat kasi ng Filipino ay mayroong national ID, ibig sabihin, alam natin … we can take account kung sinong nasa bansa at kung sino nasa labas ng bansa at kung sino ang pumapasok na hindi naman talaga Filipino (If every Filipino has a national ID, we can take account who are in the country and those abroad, and the non-Filipinos entering the country),” he said.
Aside from security purposes, Andanar said the proposed national ID system would help streamline and simplify public and private transactions especially for overseas Filipino workers.
He noted that Filipinos, especially those planning to work abroad, have suffered enough long lines and other inconvenience just to complete various ID requirements.
“Mas maganda kung iyong national ID na iyon ay isang representation na rin ng kaniyang NBI clearance ‘di ba, at kung ano pang mga clearance na kailangan – Social Security System (SSS), Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) (It would be better if the national ID would be the single representation of his NBI clearance, and other clearances needed such as the SSS, GSIS),” he said.
The Senate has recently approved on third and final reading the bill that would establish the first national ID in the country.
Under Senate Bill 1738, the Philippine Identification System will be established for all citizens and foreign residents in the country. The ID will reportedly contain the PhilSys Number (PSN), full name, date of birth, address and fingerprint information of the person.
The House of Representatives approved its own version of the national ID system last year. Once ratified by the two houses of Congress, the bill is expected to be transmitted to President Duterte for signature before it becomes a law.
Andanar expressed confidence that a vigilant citizenry could readily air their complaints or grievances should the national ID system is abused.
“Lahat naman tayo ay marunong magreklamo, ‘di ba? Mayroon naman tayong mga congressman, mga senador na puwede nating lapitan (We all know how to complain, right? We can run to our congressmen, senators),” he said.
“We are very active, dynamic population na talagang tumataas na iyong ating discourse, level of discourse kung mayroon mang mga issues na dapat pag-uusapan at hindi naman tayo papayag na maabuso lang iyong mga ganitong klaseng karapatan natin sa pamamagitan ng ID (our level of discourse has improved if we have issues that need to be tackled, we will not allow the abuse of our rights through the ID),” he said.
“And iyong intension ng ID ay really para mas gumaan ang buhay ng bawat Filipino (The intention of the ID is really to improve the lives of each Filipino),” he added.