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Gatchalian in favor of ‘National ID System’ to combat money laundering, improve delivery of services

Photo by PR Fesalbon

Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) senatorial bet Win Gatchalian is in favor of having a national identification system that will help combat money laundering in the banking system and improve delivery of services by the government.

Gatchalian maintained that having a strict bank practices, such as the know-your-client rule, coupled with a biometrics-based national ID system,​could be used as an additional safeguard to prevent money laundering in banks and other financial institutions.

“A national ID system, which is biometrics-based, would prevent money launderers from creating fictitious bank accounts as what had happened to the case of the recent $81-million money-laundering case involving the Jupiter branch of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp,” said Gatchalian, who is running for senator under the Partido Galing at Puso (PGP) of presidential frontrunner Grace Poe and leading vice presidential bet Chiz Escudero.

Although the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has adopted a biometrics-based ID system, the country has yet to institutionalize a national ID system, which has been endorsed by the Philippine National Police (PNP) as an effective tool against organized crime groups such as drug syndicates, kidnap-for-ransom gangs, and bank robbery syndicates.

Human rights advocates and militant groups have been opposing a national ID system for fear that such scheme would violate a citizen’s right to privacy and would be prone to abuse by the state.

Gatchalian said what he has in mind is a “personal reference number” or PRN that will be generated by the Philippine Statistics Authority for every individual registered in the National Database System (NDS) which will be created under a proposed bill that he will immediately file if he wins a Senate seat.

“My proposed bill seeks to establish a modern, comprehensive, and secure national database system that will streamline the process of obtaining common official documents and facilitate succeeding transactions of the public while keeping the integrity of government records or documents and promoting good governance,” explained Gatchalian.

Gatchalian pointed out that his proposed measure aims to minimize, if not entirely to do away, with the need to travel and go to different offices every time one needs to obtain a copy of certain government document or record.

“The advantages of the NDS include having a reliable identification reference system of citizens and other individuals residing in the Philippines and enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of government agencies in the management and delivery of services,” said the Valenzuela City lawmaker.

Among the agencies prioritized for inclusion in the NDS are the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA); Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (Philhealth); Home Development Mutual Fund or PagIBIG Fund (Pag-IBIG); Social Security System (SSS); Government Service Insurance System (GSIS); National Bureau of Investigation (NBI); Land Transportation Office (LTO),​ and;​ the Office of Consular Affairs of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

Gatchalian said the unique PRN will be the primary key identifier of each individual registered in the NDS, which will be under the National Database Administration.

“Having a PRN could help in the targeted delivery of public assistance and in the promotion of financial inclusion since the PRN will be used to establish linkages among the agencies included in the NDS,” said Gatchalian.

Gatchalian clarified that the data to be derived from the NDS shall be limited to biological information and solely used for identification purposes.

“Data necessary for a member to avail of the benefits of Philhealth, PagIBIG, SSS, and GSIS may be included in the NDS such as records of premium payments and name of beneficiaries as well as information indicated in the current NBI clearance,” concluded Gatchalian.