Bicol rights group exposes new ID system bill

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Vince Casilihan. of Karapatan Bikol. Contributed Photo
Vince Casilihan. of Karapatan Bikol. Contributed Photo

LEGAZPI CITY (19-Feb-2013) – A trashed adversary that comes sneaking under a new guise. This is how Karapatan Bicol describes House Bill 6895, the National ID System assuming a new name in “Filipino Identification System Act”.

According to the human rights organization’s Vince Casilihan, the proposed law is nothing different from past regimes’ attempts at curtailing the right to privacy of the people. “The government may call it by any other name and under another pretext, but the main deal is that this National ID System violates the basic rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights of our constitution. It violates the individual’s right to privacy, to security of person and freedom of movement.”

Casilihan recalls that militant organizations have struggled alongside the broad majority of the people in opposing the creation of a database on each and every citizen, from the time of then President Fidel V. Ramos, and even until former President Macapagal-Arroyo tried to revive the project. “This National ID System means nothing more than a corrupt and abusive government spying on its citizens and keeping them under strict control,” said Casilihan.

Karapatan Bicol illustrates that with the revival of the scorned ID system, all the more will state authorities arbitrarily inflict upon the people the oppression already pervading the current PNoy regime. Casilihan explains that since an ID would be required of each individual, a person may be denied movement and other rights and privileges, or may even be arrested and illegally detained for the simple reason that he/she fails to present an ID.

In relation to this, Karapatan Bicol highly condemns the repressive ID scheme that is being enforced in the countrysides under Oplan Bayanihan. Casilihan exposes that “Peasants and other villagers are compelled by the military to sign onto logbooks and produce cedulas in order for soldiers to monitor people’s movements. Failure to do so results in accusations of being NPA rebels, making the unfortunate farmers targets of harassment and physical harm.”

Moreover, says Karapatan, with the proposed ID system not being countered, a government resentful of its critics would all the more be facilitated in persecuting dissenters. With the people’s electronic records at their hands, this will enable state forces to manipulate profiles and criminalize government critics, or at the very least track down their movements and intimidate them, very well violative of people’s liberties. “A terrorist state has no tinge of authority to undertake a national ID system. This project has long been rejected by the people, with no less than the Supreme Court supporting the people’s stance,” reiterates Casilihan.

House Bill 6895 is authored by Albay Congressman AlFrancis Bichara, and is being supported by Ako Bicol partylist. Proponents of the Act say that the new ID system aims to fight red tape. To this, Casilihan counters that red tape is just another form of corruption that has been institutionalized in a government run by the likes of Bichara and Ako Bicol. “For corruption to be eliminated, a systemic change in society is required, and that entails at the minimum, getting rid of politicians endorsing anti-people and anti-democratic laws,” retorts Casilihan.

Karapatan lastly calls on the people to remain vigilant in guarding against persistent oppressive laws such as the National ID System. “Clearly,” says Casilihan, “this government under PNoy does not intend to let up with its efforts to completely subjugate the people through cunning laws. We must match each devious move by the government with the same collective vigor that has tossed oppressive laws and their proponents into the mires of condemnation.”

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