World-class but affordable

HIDDEN AGENDA - Mary Ann LL. Reyes (The Philippine Star) - December 14, 2019 - 12:00am

Everything seems all set for the Philippine Identification System or PhilSys.

According to National Statistician Dennis Mapa, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) is on track to have the system fully operational and to start mass registration by middle of next year.

PhilSys aims to provide a valid proof of identity or a national ID for all Filipino citizens and resident aliens as a means of simplifying public and private transactions, promote seamless service delivery, enhance administrative governance, reduce corruption, strengthen financial inclusion, and promote ease of doing business.

Just recently, the second PhilSys package covering the supply and delivery of the automated biometric identification system for the National ID project was bidded out by the PSA. This involves encoding into the system, as well as in the ID card the biometric and other information of individuals.

During what was described as a highly transparent public auction last Nov. 19, the joint venture of Idemia Identity and Security France (Idemia Morpho) and FMC Solutions offered the lowest bid of P684 million. Other bidders like Dermalog with Microgenesis and Airspeed offered P877.9 million; Gemalto and Netix P879.9 million; and NEC and LDLA P1.016 billion. Obviously, Idemia Morpho’s bid is P194 million cheaper than that of the next lowest bidder and is way lower than the P1.7 billion actually earmarked for this priority project of the Duterte administration.

Unfortunately, certain groups have been feeding some members of Congress fake news to prevent the PSA from awarding the contract, and to stop the national ID system. One of the victims of these fake news is former broadcast journalist-turned-legislator Laguna Rep. Sol Aragones (Marisol Aragones Sampelo).

Taking these information fed to her as bible truth and without first verifying the allegations, Aragones took to the press and expressed her concern over the inclusion of a supposedly World Bank-blacklisted firm in the bidding for the second phase of her pet project, the National ID system. 

She asked why Idemia and FMC, a firm engaged in databank and personal ID technology, was allowed by the PSA to take part in the bidding when it has been banned by the World Bank until May 2020 for questionable practices, despite alleged problems in Bangladesh, Finland, Denmark and Burkina Faso, and for offering an inferior system. 

Had she done a little research, Aragones would have found out that Idemia Morpho is not on the World Bank’s blacklist of supplier-contractors; that it has quite a number of state-of-the-art projects across the globe, including the  passenger processing biometric system at the Changi Airport in Singapore, which has been adjudged the world’s best airport for five years in a row; that it isn’t saddled with any project setbacks in Bangladesh, Finland, Denmark and Burkina Faso; and that the PSA bidding had produced an offer so cheap because the auction was highly transparent, aboveboard, and shorn of any hanky panky.

 First, according to the World Bank website, it is Idemia’s predecessor, Overthur Technologies SA, which has been on its ineligibility list while Idemia Morpho is listed as one of the excluded affiliates, which means that it can do business with the World Bank. 

 Second, according to our sources, Idemia Morpho’s supposed entanglements in Bangladesh, Finland, Denmark and Burkina Faso are pure fiction. 

Third, Idemia Morpho, far from being a provider of low-quality or inferior solutions, in fact has an outstanding track record.

 To provide fast and seamless travel for its customers, Changi Airport selected Idemia Morpho to deliver identification and authentication services as passengers pass through the airport’s Terminal 4, providing automated passenger ID checks using facial recognition.  

In the United Kingdom, the UK Home Office Biometrics  Program has awarded a five-year contract to Idemia to deliver a new fingerprint matcher service to guarantee increased accuracy fingerprint services to be used first by UK’s national law enforcement agencies and, later, by its immigration and border stakeholders.

 In Australia, Idemia has secured a $24.4 million contract to support the national fingerprint database of the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, to include face and palm biometrics. The company also has a project with the Australian Department of Home Affairs designed to position Australia as vanguard of border and immigration systems across the globe using its state-of-the-art Unisys Stealth biometric matching for the processing of visas, border crossing and citizenship applications.  

The Australian Border Agency has also tapped Idemia, since 2004, for the maintenance of SmartGates as part of the arrival process in that country, with the use of Kiosks and eGates. The Australian agency recently extended its contract with Idemia for another five years so it can replace the kiosks with next-generation ready technology to keep Australia at the forefront of modern technology and border security.

 In New Zealand, the airports of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch have, for 10 years now, been using Morpho Australasia’s Smartgate to give travelers the option of self-processing through passport control in these terminals. This system, which uses facial recognition technology to match faces against the data found in the e-Passport chips, has thus far been used by 18 million passengers.   

Since January this year, about 1.3 million ID cards have been used in Estonia. The capacity of the chips used in these IDs have been increased such that the cards can now be used for new applications like electronic ticketing in public transportation or other electronically issued certifications.  

Less than a month ago in Yokohama, Japan, Idemia Morpho’s Smart Identity Card  for the Immigration Department of Hong Kong was recognized by High Security Printing Asia (HSP)  as the best ID or Regional ID Document of the Year.

 The Aadhar National ID of India is regarded as the world’s most ambitious biometrics project as it aims to capture that country’s 1.25 billion people. 

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