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Philippines official walks back comments on biometrics contract

Dermalog points to benefits to citizens in response
Philippines official walks back comments on biometrics contract

The Philippines Land Transportation Office has walked back comments made by an official in a public interview which suggested dissatisfaction at the execution of a contract by Dermalog for digital infrastructure used in biometric identity verification. Contrary to those statements, the contract is not at risk, and the public agency intends to discuss its concerns with the company.

A public comment by LTO Chief Teofilo Guadiz that the new IT system provided by Dermalog is not as good as the previous one and that driver’s license renewals were taking longer as a result drew immediate pushback.

A lawmaker said that LTO sources reported the previous contractor, a local company that has been paid hundreds of millions of dollars, had not fulfilled its own commitments, hindering Dermalog’s efforts.

“It was never the intention of Land Transportation Office to replace Dermalog as its IT systems provider because doing so at this time will produce more problems instead of solutions,” Guadiz wrote in a statement posted to Facebook.

“We believe that the best course of action at this point is to sit down with Dermalog and its officials, IT personnel, and other concerned stakeholders, and discuss with the LTO their own concerns. Our hope is that doing so, issues and other concerns can be ironed out and avoid or hopefully eliminate problems and other challenges that may arise in the delivery of public service.

“We believe that any unnecessary delays in providing services that the LTO is mandated to provide will always be detrimental to the public’s welfare and certainly this Office, and perhaps even Dermalog, does not want that to happen.

“It has always been this LTO’s intention to give the motoring public the best and quality services they so richly deserve, in the most timely, convenient, and cost-effective manner, and we will continue to abide by it,” Guadiz concludes.

Asked about the initial allegations by Guadiz over email, Dermalog clarified and defended its role in LTO’s systems upgrade.

“As a leading systems integrator in government digitization, Dermalog Identification Systems, as part of a project consortium, has provided the LTO (Philippine Land Transportation Office) with a comprehensive and state-of-the-art IT infrastructure that gives Filipino citizens convenient online access to many of the agency’s services,” Dermalog Head of Media Relations Sven Böckler told Biometric Update.

“For example, after registering, citizens can apply for their driver’s license, register their car or make an appointment at one of the LTO branches. In addition, thanks to the new portal, online cashless payment for all fines and fees is possible. The system contributes significantly to the digitization of citizen services and is also substantially faster than previous solutions, as analyses by LTO show.

“Concerning the allegations made in various media, we refer to the recent statement of the Land Transportation Office and emphasize that we very much appreciate the long-standing, trusting and successful partnership between LTO and Dermalog and look forward to further cooperation,” Böckler adds.

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