Press Release
January 8, 2008


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Nene" Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said he is fully in favor of a national identification system but cast doubts on the idea that it can be a tool for foiling terrorist threats.

Pimentel said he has been proposing a national ID system since a long time ago but it is essentially aimed at facilitating routine transactions in government agencies and private firms for the benefit of the public.

"I don't know of any country which has won the war against terrorism because of a national ID system. By all means, let us adopt an identification system but its purpose is to facilitate legal transactions," he said.

He recalled the report about an Al Qaeda terrorist who participated in the bombing of the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon building in Washington D.C. on Sept. 11, 2001. He said the day after the bombing, the residency application of that same terrorist was approved by the United States government.

"This goes to show that even if you issued 1,000 IDs to a would-be or suspected terrorist, that would not prevent a terrorist act. So I think it is a wrong premise to say that we should adopt an ID system to fight terrorism," Pimentel said.

Pimentel debunked the criticism that a mandatory ID system wherein citizens will have their permanent identification number will be an invasion of their right to privacy.

He said that in the bill that he filed with the Senate, only the basic data about a person will appear in the plastic tamper-proof ID card.

He said these data include the name, date of birth, place of birth, height, civil status and address of the ID holder.

There would be an invasion of privacy if even the bank account number of the owner is contained in the ID card, he said.

Pimentel said a national ID system can be established only by an enabling law passed by Congress.

He said that whatever ID system that may be approved by local government units will be applicable only for residents in their respective provinces, cities or municipalities.

On the expenses for a national ID system, Pimentel said the national government will shoulder the cost of setting up the system, including maintenance of the computerized data gathering and storage. But he said the cost of each individual ID should be charged against the holders since it is primarily for his own benefit.

Pimentel said the issuance of a national ID cards would spare the citizens from the trouble of being required to present two or three ID cards to establish one's identity especially in securing payments from government and private agencies and in withdrawing money from the banks.

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