Pimentel: stop ID system in Sulu

In a press statement, Pimentel said the wearing of IDs “was ordered by the military without waiting for Congress to enact a law mandating a national ID system in accordance with a decision of the Supreme Court.”

A press statement from the Sulu Media Desk on January 21 said Sulu Governor Sakur Tan launched the provincial ID system with Patikul town as pilot, “but we are going to issue identification cards in all towns and we have the support of the local government officials and the citizens themselves.”

Residents of Patikul 12 years old and above, are required to carry a “citizen identification card” but Tan, according to the press statement, said this not part of the proposed national ID system but is aimed  at  “curbing crimes and deterring terrorism” and serves as a “database for local census.”

The card was launched in Patikul which reportedly has at least 50,000 residents.

The ID card’s signatory, however, is the commanding officer of  the 3rd Marine Brigade, Col. Natalio C. Ecarma. The seal of the Philippine Marine Corps is on the upper right, the seal of the local government of Patikul is on the upper left.

Pimentel’s press statement said the ID system in Sulu “was reportedly the brainchild of
Col. Natalio Ecarma, commanding officer of the 3rd Marine Brigade stationed in Jolo Sulu, with the support of the provincial government, which bear his signature.”

Pimentel expressed fears residents found not wearing the ID cards “would be harassed and perhaps detained by government troops, on  suspicion that they are terrorists and criminals.”

“I suggest to all concerned to revoke the IDs issued without any legal basis in Sulu,” he said.

“The ID unnecessarily makes dissidents out of the residents of the province who think that IDs are illegal and uselessly create tensions there,” he said.

Pimentel asked the leadership of the Armed Forces of the Philippines “why it is tolerating this illegal activity,” when “even Malacañang has admitted that the mandatory issuance and wearing of IDs by the citizens could only be possible if Congress approves the corresponding law.”

Pimentel has filed a bill institutionalizing a national ID system with the intent of making it easy for people to transact business with all government agencies, as well as with banks and other entities.

In a press statement on January 30, the Bangsamoro Solidarity (Bangsa) said it “strongly questions the legality of the imposition of this ID system,” claiming it has “no constitutional and/ or statutory basis” and that “there was no proper consultation and it did not pass through the local legislative body.” (MindaNews)