PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal Arroyo yesterday ordered the national ID system implemented immediately and its guidelines drafted quickly after the Supreme Court upheld its constitutionality on Wednesday.
Presidential chief of staff Michael Defensor said the guidelines might be released within the month or before May 15 at the latest.
The government plans to launch the national ID system initially in three government agencies: the National Economic and Development Authority, the Philippine Health Insurance Corp., and the National Statistics Office.
The Department of Interior and Local Government and two senators welcomed the national ID system, but a party-list representative slammed it.
“People should [not be afraid] that their privacy will be invaded should the ID system be enforced,” Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno said.
“It will make it easier for the police to track down criminals.”
“The enlightened ruling and decision of the Supreme Court proves to everyone that they are still independent of Malacañang,” Senator Manuel Villar said.
“The people’s trust and confidence in the judiciary will surely be reinforced because of this.”
“The constitutionality of a unified ID is welcome news to people who are aware that IDs guarantee benefits to the holder,” Senator Ralph Recto said.
“Those are what matter to holders of any ID, be they workers in government, factories or the self-employed.”
But Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño said he and his group would file a motion questioning the Supreme Court action affirming the legality of Executive Order 420, which prescribes the national ID system.
“Had they heard our arguments [against the ID system], I’m sure the Supreme Court would have had a different outlook,” Casiño said.
But Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye said Filipinos had nothing to worry about the ID system.
“President Arroyo has given the go-signal to the Cabinet to get the ID system on track for immediate implementation,” he said.
“Issues averting to infringement of human rights are phantom fears. The system has enough safeguards to protect the citizens from imagined violations of their right to privacy.”
Bunye said the ID system would complement the government campaign against terrorism particularly in the south, where the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist network is said to be operating.
“Every strong and progressive nation has a national ID system in one form or another,” Bunye said.
“We appreciate the Supreme Court decision not only for its contribution to national security but its effect in facilitating the delivery of vital government programs as well.”
But Economic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri said there was no budget yet for the ID system.
“Eventually, if it’s really a good system, then that’s the time we spend and ask for a budget,” he said.
He said the government was expecting a decision from Spain to grant a request for about P31 million in grants to finance a pilot ID system. Joyce Pangco Pañares, Michael Caber, Roy Pelovello, Macon Ramos Araneta, Fel V. Maragay