Press Release
January 8, 2008


Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, a constitutional law expert, said that the national ID scheme recommended by the military as part of the campaign to eradicate the Communist insurgency needs a law passed by Congress.

"If the military proposes a single ID system that will be compulsory for all branches of government, then a law passed by Congress is necessary. A mere executive order will not suffice," Santiago said.

Santiago cited the 2006 case of Kilusang Mayo Uno v. Neda Director General where the court ruled that the President can merely authorize a uniform ID data collection and ID format by executive order, because of her power of control over the executive branch.

However, in the same case, the Supreme Court ruled that a law passed by Congress is necessary if the ID system is characterized by three features.

The first feature is a special appropriation.

The second feature is when the ID card system is compulsory on all branches of government.

The third feature is when the ID card system requires personal data beyond what is routinely required, such that the citizen's right to privacy is infringed.

"The President's Executive Order 420 was upheld by the Supreme Court, only because the Court held that it did not establish a national card system," Santiago said.

Santiago added that in filing the proper bill, Congress should beware to avoid violating the "overbreadth" doctrine that was invoked by the Supreme Court in the 1998 case of Ople v. Torres. In the Ople case, the court declared as invalid Administrative Order No. 308, because the court held it violated the constitutional right to privacy, and needed a law passed by Congress.

"Under the ruling case of Kilusang Mayo Uno, the right to privacy does not bar the adoption of reasonable ID systems by government entities," Santiago said.

Santiago said that in 2006, the Supreme Court pointed out that some 100 countries already had compulsory national ID systems, including various democracies.

The senator said that the national ID scheme should be limited in the collection and recording of personal data to avoid violation of the constitutionally protected "right of the people to information on matters of public concern."

"The constitutional right to information does not include personal matters," the senator said.

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