EDITORIAL - Again, a national ID
() - May 16, 2012 - 12:00am

The government has in its files personal information about every Filipino who has been issued a passport, a driver’s license or a residence certificate. Personal information is also obtained by the government for income tax payments, voter registration, marriage, public health insurance coverage, security clearance for job applications, and most business transactions.

For many years now, there have been proposals to issue every citizen a national identification card, bearing pertinent personal information that may include those already in the database of various government offices. The strongest proponents argue that the system, in place in several countries, can help curb criminality. The argument is that those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear, especially since much of the information is already in the public domain and simply needs a bit of consolidation.

Yet all the proposals have been junked, with the biggest concern being that the system could be used by the government for harassment. How this is so can only be clear to those who need the cloak of anonymity to go about their business. Even impoverished informal settlers need to register with their barangay if they want certain basic services from the government.

The real concern, if Congress finally approves a national ID system, is to ensure that it will achieve its objectives. Among other things, it is supposed to facilitate citizens’ transactions with the government and improve the campaign against lawlessnesss.

If approved, the first thing that must be done is to make the national ID card as difficult to counterfeit as the nation’s currency. The card should also be durable, unlike several driver’s licenses where the picture warps after only a few months, the letters become smudged and the laminated surface cracks.

And if the national ID system is meant to enhance public safety, it must be accompanied by an intensified campaign against criminality.

ALREADY CARD GOVERNMENT INFORMATION NATIONAL PERSONAL PUBLIC SYSTEM
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