Philippines legislature approves new biometric national ID

A law setting up a new biometric national ID system has been approved in both chambers of the Philippines’ legislature, but has been heavily criticized by opposition lawmakers who fear it will be used as a tool of repression by President Rodrigo Duterte, GMA News reports.

ACT Teachers party-list Representative France Castro expressed concerns that the legislation threatens the privacy rights of Filipinos, and could be used for surveillance and control of the public.

“With President [Rodrigo] Duterte’s emerging dictatorial rule, the deteriorating human rights situation, the increasing number of extrajudicial killings, martial law in Mindanao, a total war in the countryside, and the Duterte regime’s tyrannical rule, the bill may be used against those who criticize and oppose his policies,” she said.

Legislators also said that making the ID mandatory for services would exclude some people, and that the funds would have been better spent on social services. PHP 2 billion (roughly US$38 million) is allocated for the national ID system in the country’s 2018 budget.

The new system could replace dozens of ID cards issued by different government agencies, and result in savings of billions of dollars for the government.

The national ID bill will become law once it is signed by Duterte.

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