Senate committee to tackle ID system

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FILE photo of Senator Panfilo Lacson — SENATE PRIB

THE SENATE is set to conduct hearings on the proposed national ID system, amid calls to increase security measures against terrorism, Senator Panfilo M. Lacson, Sr. said on Monday, Oct. 30.

“I will schedule a committee hearing to tackle the bills on the national ID system and pass the same during the 17th Congress since I have been designated as subcommittee chair of the Senate justice committee to sponsor the same,” Mr. Lacson said via text, when sought for comment on a social media post urging a congressional inquiry on the recently resolved terror crisis in Marawi City.

The proposed ID system, approved at the House of Representatives last September as the proposed Unified National Identification Act, is part of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s priority legislation.

The said post, shared in part by lawyer and Manila Observatory executive director Antonio Gabriel M. La Viña, raised several arguments as to why Congress should conduct an “investigation hearing regarding (the) Marawi siege.”

“In (the) Marawi siege, 165 of our troops and policemen have been confirmed to be killed in action and almost a thousand of civilians have also died in the course of war. Hundreds of thousands of civilians are displaced and affected. Shall we not call for TRUTH, ACCOUNTABILITY and JUSTICE as well? If we have 44 SAF (killed Special Action Force members in the 2015 Mamasapano operation subject to) congressional…investigation, can we not have one also?” the post said in part, as it also cited the Senate inquiry conducted with “lightning speed” on the Horacio Castillo hazing case in which “one person was a victim.”

The post also urged an inquiry on the use of intelligence funds, displacement of thousands of residents, funding on Marawi’s rehabilitation, and the reported looting in the course of the crisis.

For his part, Mr. Lacson said: “There are either mechanisms or pieces of legislation already in place to tackle or handle the Marawi issues being suggested to be investigated by the Senate in aid of legislation. One, there is already an existing Select Committee on Intelligence funds; two, I already filed a Senate resolution to revisit RA 10121 in compliance with its sunset provision with the end in view of introducing amendments to the said law, not to mention other similar resolutions and privilege speeches on the same or similar issues.”

“As regards the massive looting/robbery in the city of Marawi, I would rather leave it to the AFP leadership to investigate and take appropriate action, the senator added.

“At a time when the reconstruction and rehabilitation program (has been) set in place by the authorities, I don’t think an intervention by any house of Congress by way of legislation is called for or necessary,” Mr. Lacson also said. — Arjay L. Balinbin