By Daniel Llanto i FilAm Star Correspondent
THE Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) and national ID system, two contentious measures on public order that at least three past administrations took up but failed to bring to fruition, were finally signed into law by President Duterte.
At a ceremonial signing in Malacañang, Duterte said the BOL and PH Identification Act are public measures that will guarantee peace and a good future for Filipinos. Constitutional issues hounded both measures when they were adopted as legislative agenda under the Ramos, GMA and Aquino administrations.
Both measures “not only impact peace and order, but also chart a future where every Filipino, regardless of ethnicity, culture, or religious affiliation, can enjoy the freedom this nation proudly stands for,” Duterte said.
On the BOL, Duterte appealed for Filipinos to give the new Bangsamoro region a chance. “Let us give this law a chance to address the Bangsamoro people’s aspiration for genuine autonomy while preserving our bond as a single nation,” the President said.
“Together, let us shatter the clouds that once loomed over our nation, and welcome our brighter future not only for the Bangsamoro people but also for peace-loving Filipinos,” he said.
As for the single national identification system, Duterte said the law will enhance governmental transactions and encourage the environment for trade and commerce to thrive. He added that there should be no apprehensions about the ID Act since it will provide data privacy and security.
The ID law “will not only enhance governance, but will also reduce corruption and avoid fraudulent transactions,” Duterte assured. Under the law, the system will be administered by an agency called PhilSys ID.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson agreed, defending the proposal from criticisms on privacy. He said information about the cardholder is already kept by various government agencies that issue ID or other documents.
“Don’t they have driver’s licenses? Don’t they have passports? Don’t they have voters’ IDs?
The information needed for the national ID is the same so why should they complain when they have already gone through the same process before?” he said, noting that PhilSys ID will contain security features and prevention against the proliferation of fraudulent or falsified identification cards.
Lacson pointed out that having national IDs would not be compulsory.
Duterte thanked lawmakers responsible for supporting his administration’s legislative agenda, including Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, former House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
“Indeed, the passage of these laws speak well of their able leadership and firm resolve to rise above divisive partisan politics,” Duterte said.
The President also expressed gratitude to the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) for their unwavering commitment in pursuing the passage of the BOL
“I ask my Bangsamoro brothers and sisters, as well as the indigenous communities and Christian settlers living within the Bangsamoro areas, to actively participate in constructive discussions about the law in your homes, in your villages, and communities,” Duterte said.
“More importantly, I encourage you to take part in the upcoming plebiscite so that you may express your sovereign will through the ballot,” he added.
Presidential Peace Adviser Sec. Jesus Dureza said the plebiscite on the BOL could take place by late November or early December.
With the signing of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, Dureza said the MILF now faces the challenge of making the law achieve its objectives. He added that the BOL aims to end the decades-long Muslim insurgency in Mindanao.
On the national ID system, it was noted that the initial application and issuance, as well as the renewal of PhilSys ID for Filipino citizens, will be free of charge.
To register with the PhilSys, citizens must present their birth certificates. Resident aliens, on the other hand, need to show their proof of residence in the country.