South Cotabato Officials Mull Community ID System

South Cotabato officials are planning to implement an identification or ID system in a bid to counter the presence of armed groups and criminal elements in remote communities in the province.

South Cotabato Governor Daisy Avance-Fuentes said she is set to commission a study for the rollout of a barangay ID system as a measure to secure communities from the activities of “dubious elements,” among them members of the New People’s Army (NPA).

She said the proposed move will help address the continuing harassment and extortion activities of NPA rebels and other armed groups in some villages in the province.

The governor said police and military personnel operating in the province had been facing difficulty in identifying members of these groups during pursuit operations as they could easily blend in with civilians.

“This problem could be addressed by an ID system, wherein village residents would be issued IDs that will carry some basic personal details or information, including their photos and thumb marks,” she said.

Fuentes said the upcoming study, which will be spearheaded by the Provincial Legal Office, will mainly determine whether the proposal is “legally feasible.”

She said its results will serve as basis for the possible crafting later on of an ordinance regarding the measure.

The governor said the province’s 11 city and municipal mayors have expressed support to the proposed ID system.

She said they held initial discussions on the matter following a meeting in Davao City last week called for by President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

Citing inputs from the mayors, she said the planned ID system would take off from the community-based monitoring system or CBMS being implemented by local government units.

CBMS is an organized way of collecting household level information at the local level. It seeks to integrate the use of data in local level planning and program implementation, as well as promote evidence-based decision-making.

For the proposed ID system, Fuentes said they will just have to expand the collected household data and issue IDs to those in the list.

She said the barangays will be given the authority to issue the IDs to their “legitimate” residents.

“The IDs will not be solely for security purposes but they can also be used as official identification document,” she said.

Tupi Mayor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr., president of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines-South Cotabato chapter, said the ID system will not only be useful in curbing criminality or addressing security-related concerns in the barangays.

He said they could use the system in expanding their services to their constituents, especially those in the remote areas.

Since the CBMS includes information like the livelihood status of households, he said they could easily identify and prioritize residents for inclusion in their socio-economic programs.

“We can also collect information on the blood types of household members and print them on their IDs. That will be very helpful in cases of emergencies,” he added. (PNA) LAP/BS/AVE