Meanwhile, the level of computerization in most Philippine government agencies is low. This can be gleaned from a recent study by the National Computer Center (NCC) on the use of information technology in government agencies. The study showed that as of 2003, 50 percent of national government agencies still use dial-up connections. Others still use outdated software. Moreover, only 14 percent of government offices use Pentium 4 computers. The study also showed that networking among government agencies is still not prevalent (NCC, 2003). As such, it is unimaginable how a proposed ID system which presupposes huge investments in information technology can even be thought of at this time.
Moreover, according to the National Statistics Office (NSO), ten percent of Filipino children are unregistered or do not possess birth certificates. This is a perennial problem that can pose a big constraint to a planned ID system as this would marginalize millions of Filipinos. The implications of the proposal to the welfare of indigenous people who often lack identification should also be looked into.
Clearly, a proposed ID system has its share of advantages as well as disadvantages. However, as the paper has shown, it is not a panacea to the ills that hound the country. Efforts to curb criminality should still be focused on huge budgetary investments in the training, values education and capacity-building of the police. This should be complemented by resolving the perennial problems in the other pillars of the 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.
The staggering cost is also a major concern not just for developing countries such as the Philippines but also for rich ones such as the United States and the United Kingdom. A more realistic cost estimate is imperative if the government is bent on making the ID system work. It must be based on the system specification, the information and the level of technology of the proposed ID system.
Ultimately, the viability of an ID system rests on a question that has hounded mankind since the time it founded the institution of government as the basis of social order: To what extent should a citizen allow the government to interfere with private affairs in exchange for his security?
Reports and Analyses
Cato Institute. Cato Policy Analysis No. 237 September 7, 1995. “A National ID System: Big Brother’s Solution to Illegal Immigration” by John J. Miller and Stephen Moore.
Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report for Congress. “Biometric Identifiers and Border Security: 9/11 Commission Recommendations and Related Issues” by Daniel Morgan and William Krouse, Resources, Science and Industry Division and Domestic Social Policy Division. February 7, 2005.
Government of the Philippines, World Bank and Asian Development Bank.2003. “Philippines: Improving Government Performance: Discipline, Efficiency and Equity in Managing Public Resources.”
French, Angela. “Real ID: Big Brother Could Cost Big Money,” Citizens Against Government Watch (CAGW). October 17, 2005.
London School of Economics and Political Science. The Identity Project. An Assessment of the UK Identity Cards Bill and Its Implications. Interim Report. London,
Communication Technology (ICT) Resources Survey 2002-2003,” June 30, 2003.