Lawmaker suggests Philippine biometrics project held up by former contractor
A biometrics contract Dermalog is carrying out in the Philippines is under fire from Land Transportation Office Chief Teofilo Guadiz, who has in turn been criticized by the House Deputy Minority Leader.
The head of the LTO said in a recent media interview that the IT system provided by Dermalog is not as good as one provided by Stradcom Corporation, which held the same contract from 1998 to 2016.
Dermalog is developing digital infrastructure for biometric identity verification by the LTO, and supports six systems, which also include driver’s license and fee payment services. Plans to unify various government-held biometric databases were announced in 2020, along with an online portal for registrants.
Guadiz said that the old IT system was better, and invited Stradcom to bid for the project again. He told CNN Philippines that driver’s license renewals are now taking five or six days, compared to two hours previously.
House Deputy Minority Leader Bagong Henerasyon (BH) Party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera responded to the comments by expressing concern that it may be improper for the head of an agency to threaten to terminate a contract and suggest a replacement. She also questioned whether commitments made Dermalog were being offered.
Herrera says LTO sources claimed Stradcom has not turned over the motorists’ database to Dermalog as required, despite being paid 7.53 billion Philippine pesos (US$135.8 million) in just the last four years of its contract.
The situation has already led to contentious interactions between at least one media outlet and Stradcom.
Stradcom is based in Quezon City, Philippines.
Consultations by the parliamentarian also indicated that stakeholders are pleased Dermalog does not charge interconnection fees for vehicle registration, driver’s license changes, and other transactions. She also said that the LTO is blaming problems on system glitches which appear to be caused by manual interventions by agency personnel.
A representative of Herrera said that setbacks in Dermalog’s operations have been blamed on the lack of a database.
Herrera also suggested that LTO has “considerable funds” left to upgrade the current system with.
Dermalog has been contacted for comment, and this story will be updated when one is received.