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Philippine ePassports soon to include iris scans


The Philippine government is planning to introduce iris scans as a part of its e-passport program.

According to a report in the Gulf News, a senior diplomat recently made comments, saying an open round of bidding will occur before any plans are confirmed.

All passports will contain iris scans as soon as 2014, though its unclear if a cost will be passed down to applicants.

“The iris scan will just be an added feature,” the diplomat said in the report. “Our ePassport already complies with the International Civil Aviation Organisation and features a chip within its pages that contains data to verify the identity of the passport holder, including through iris scans.”

The Philippines is home to a number of national biometric programs.

Reported previously, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in the Philippines recently stopped the ongoing validation of biometric voter records in preparation for the country’s upcoming elections, as the commission needed to increase its workforce to deal with the volume of data.

Comelec has recently come out to say that there are more than nine million voters in the country that have not yet registered biometrics for 2016 elections.

Though 2016 is nearly three years away, nine million voters is a significant constituency, and the registration process requires manpower. This is a massive undertaking, and the 2016 election will be one to watch.

Earlier this year, it was reported that the number of registered voters for the country had exceeded 52 million.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez this total is the highest ever recorded to participate in the country’s elections. According to a report in ABSCBNnews.com, the first automated polls in the Philippines in 2010 saw nearly 51 million voters register.

Also reported in BiometricUpdate.com, in 2012, Philippine Congress approved a bill requiring all voters in the Philippines to undergo biometric registrations for the country’s 2016 elections. This will entail voters submitting their photograph, fingerprints and signatures for verification.

The voter registration period in the country ends in 2015.

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