National I.D. bicam report omits political, religious ties

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 31) — Political, religious and “philosophical” affiliations have been removed from the bicameral conference report on the national identification system, said the measure’s co-author Rep. Sol Aragones.

“Nag-decide na kami during the bicameral na tanggalin na lahat ng iyan. Gusto namin na simplehan na lang kaya nag-arrive kami doon sa basic information na lang hinihingi namin para din hindi isipin ng mga tao na talagang ma-i-invade 'yung privacy nila," she told CNN Philippines’ On the Record on Thursday.

[Translation: We decided to omit those from the bicameral committee report. We wanted it to be simple so we ended with only requiring basic information so people will not think their privacy will be invaded.]

Aragones also clarified that providing mobile numbers and email addresses is not mandatory under the measure.

"This is one step closer to the Philippines becoming a police state. Policemen stopping you in the streets, asking for your identification," ACT Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio said.

The House of Representatives on Wednesday ratified the bicameral conference report on the bill, a day after the Senate did the same. The bill will be sent to President Rodrigo Duterte for his signature.

READ: Congress ratifies bicam report on national ID system

PSA as PhilSys custodian

Aragones said the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) will be the custodian of the cardholders’ data such us a lifetime randomly generated Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) number, full name, gender, blood type, date of birth, place of birth, marital status, and photo of the ID owner.

Tinio, however, asserted that the registry will be likely contracted to a foreign firm, much like PSA’s contract with U.S.-based firm Unisys.

“It is a much more expanded registry that they will have to maintain and in the end, it will be contracted to a foreign private entity,” he said.

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Privacy Commissioner Raymund Liboro said another concern is that the existing Data Privacy Act already penalizes breach of data, which is also mentioned as a violation in the proposed national I.D. system.

"We are (happy) because we see the benefits. There are risks. What we want to happen is to minimize the risks and maximize the benefits," Liboro said.

He added that the National Privacy Commission is part of the technical working group of the measure and is doing its part to ensure privacy features are in place.

READ: Why Filipinos should care about their personal data online