Bicam approves national ID

Paolo Romero - The Philippine Star
Bicam approves national ID
The reconciliation of the differing bills last Tuesday was swift after the House agreed to adopt the Senate’s version of the Philippine Identification System Act with minor changes.
Michael Varcas / File

MANILA, Philippines — The bill implementing a national ID system is expected to be ratified by both the Senate and the House of Representatives on Monday after the two chambers have reconciled conflicting provisions in their respective versions of the landmark measure.

The reconciliation of the differing bills last Tuesday was swift after the House agreed to adopt the Senate’s version of the Philippine Identification System Act with minor changes.

Once ratified, the bill will be sent to President Duterte for his signature.

The Senate panel was led by Sen. Panfilo Lacson, principal author of the measure, while the House contingent was headed by Laguna Rep. Sol Aragones, with former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Lacson said the bill lapses into law if not signed by the President.

“So give or take by June end or before end of June, that becomes a law,” Lacson said. “This is a landmark legislation. It’s been languishing in both Houses for 18 years.”

He said the implementation of the national ID system will have an initial funding of P25 billion and he hopes it will be implemented within the year.

Lacson said such a system will not only make transactions with government easier due to its integration of various existing IDs, it will also help deter criminality while making it easier to deliver assistance to the poor.

He said there are at least 33 different “functional” identification cards issued by various government agencies.

Under the national ID system, the new ID will also be “foundational,” in which each Filipino covered by the system will have a unique, non-transferable identification marker, he said.

The system will be managed by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

Malacañang yesterday welcomed the bicameral conference committee’s approval of the bill establishing the national ID system.

“That’s good news. It is a priority administration bill,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said.

For their part, lawmakers yesterday also lauded the approval of the bill.

“This is a welcome development to boost the country’s security. We expect the President to sign this into law once Congress ratifies the measure,” Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr. said.

Reps. Winston Castelo, Robert Ace Barbers, Karlo Nograles and House Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu also commended the bill that will establish a single, unified and streamlined national identification system in the country.

“The National ID System measure will provide a valid proof of identity and an efficient official identity verification of all citizens of the country,” Castelo, chairman of the House committee on Metro Manila development, said.

“The passage of the bill would help law enforcement agencies arrest lawbreakers and those behind illegal activities, including banned substances,” said Barbers, chairman of the House committee on dangerous drugs.

Nograles, chairman of the powerful House appropriations committee, urged the PSA to immediately implement the national ID system once President Duterte signs the bill into law.

“Let us remind the PSA to implement the measure using the budget of P2 billion we allocated for 2018. The figure is broken down as follows: P1.9 billion for capital outlay and P100 million for maintenance and other operating expenses,” he said.

Abu made a similar appeal to all concerned government agencies.

“This is very important in our fight against terrorism and other lawless elements. We expect the PSA to immediately implement this after the measure becomes a law. This will help interconnect the countless and redundant government IDs,” he said.

OSH bill

The Senate ratified yesterday the occupational safety and health standards that seeks to amend the 41-year old Labor Code, which does not penalize violations of OSH standards.

For the longest time, violation of OSH standards had no fines or penalties. The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) only issues a work stoppage order (WSO) if there is an imminent danger that could result to disabling injury.

During the bicameral conference committee meeting last Monday, the House of Representatives contingent agreed to adopt the Senate version of the measure that would impose an administrative fine of P100,000 per day for non-correction of OSH standards violation, counted from the date the employer or contractor is notified of the violation or the date the compliance order is duly served on the employer.

Sen. Joel Villanueva, author of the measure and chairman of the committee on labor, said there is an urgent need to protect workers from hazards in the workplace that could be prevented if only the government has clear and effective policies on OSH standards.

“We are elated that after three Congresses, this bill is now closer to becoming a law,” he said, even as he thanked his colleagues “for supporting this personal crusade which we have been strongly pushing to give due justice to our workers and to assure a level playing field to establishments that comply to the OSH standards.”  – With Alexis Romero, Delon Porcalla

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