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Beneficiality – Negative

Let it be resolved that: Senate Bill 917, otherwise known as the Filipino Identification System be

Judges, Mr. Moderator, esteemed speakers from the affirmative side, distinguished colleagues from
the negative side. Once again, the plan to establish a Filipino Identification System resonates from the walls
of our august congress. What will be decided will certainly serve as a vital statute or law for generations to
come. Ladies and gentlemen, we are eyeball to eyeball with history.

As the 2nd speaker of the negative side, my principal function in today’s august academic
discourse is to prove that the implementation of the Filipino national ID system is not beneficial but rather
strongly detrimental. This can be proven by three significant points at least.

1. One, the proposition is extremely disadvantageous to some of our brothers and sisters from ethnic
groups, specifically because of the provision of Section 8, paragraph 4, letter b on changing the
stated address. The Philippines is known as a culturally diverse nation and thus implies that the tribes
and ethnic groups that comprises the archipelago observes different cultures and traditions.
Nomadic tribes in particular such as the Badjao people are obliged to avail a National ID for every
citizen. Nomads, known as people that constantly changes their place of residence are subjected
to fees every time they decide to update their residence. This is extremely disadvantageous
because it appears as if their culture is considered as their vanity and is required to pay for their
culture. Undeniable evidence that the plan is not beneficial but rather strongly detrimental.

2. Two, the proposition greatly increases the probability for a functionality creep. The denominator
that runs through this argument is the extent through which the government would hold power vis-
á-visits citizens. In a report filed by the Senate Economic Planning Office of the Philippines, the ID
system can certainly be used as a double edged sword because it can suffer from a functionality
creep which means that it has the capability to serve purposes other than its original intent. Thus,
even if the original rationale for an ID system is simply to cut government red tape, a government
may eventually use it as a mechanism for repression against political opponents or to discriminate
on the basis of race or ethnicity. For instance, the Rwanda genocide in 1995 was facilitated by the
use of National ID cards. Newspaper reports recounted that Rwandans who presented ID cards
bearing a Tutsi identification were hacked to death by the Hutu militia. There is no guarantee that
the ID system can be legislated to specifically state the purpose of its implementation, there is
certainly no guarantee. The context or political environment within which ID systems are
implemented is not static, hence the potential for abuse is very great.

3. Three, the proposed law is not beneficial because it cannot address the threshold problems of our
republic that the proponents of this law foists. Combating terrorism and crimes and tax fraud are
among those benefits that proponents suggest. However, the London School of Economics study
on the viability of the ID system in the United Kingdom points out that the police in developed
countries believe that the lack of identification procedures does not pose a problem in
investigation. Also, according to a report filed by Privacy International, the causes of tax evasion
are often deeply rooted in human and organizational issues that technology may not be entirely
capable of solving such as non-declaration of true assets. Furthermore, there is no correlation
established between ID cards and the prevention of terrorism. In the same vein, it is safe to assume
that if the coverage of ID cards is confined to citizens of a particular country, then it will not deter
foreign nationals from committing terroristic activities.

The implementation of a national ID system is clearly not a panacea to the ills that hound our
country. Our nation’s efforts to curb criminality must always be focused on huge budgetary investment
in the training, values education and the capacity building of our police. This can only be addressed
by resolving the perennial problems that confront the pillars of our justice system. Administrative
efficiency or success in decreasing incidence of tax evasion and red tape on the other hand, can only
be achieved if the government makes significant strides in instituting in the bureaucracy the central
tenets of good governance: transparency, predictability, participation and accountability.