Identification | Opinion, News, The Philippine Star

As a young and naïve leftist activist many years ago, I found myself in a demonstration staged against the proposal to build a light commuter rail cutting through the heart of Manila. We formed a phalanx in the middle of Rizal Avenue in Sta. Cruz to show how congested traffic will be if the facility is built.

That was such a stupid protest action. When the commuter rail line was finally built (albeit helped by the power of martial rule), it moved our crazy, unplanned and happily chaotic metropolis an inch closer to modernity. Today, the consensus is we should have built ten commuter lines to relieve the metropolitan area from the choked streets we now endure.

Years later I would understand why the leftist groups were called out to protest the construction of the LRT-1. The mass transport facility was perceived as a threat to the jeepneys. The jeepney drivers were an important component of the left-wing political base. The Left always bases its strategy and tactics on the most parochial concerns, never in the national interest.

Today, government has designed a financing scheme that will enable us to shift from the dirty, inefficient and unhealthy jeepney. The militant jeepney groups aligned with the political Left are, of course, opposing that plan.

More than seventy years after the end of World War II, we are still embracing this irrational relic called the jeepney. Its original design, as we know, dates back to the days of scarcity after the war when we built around the general purpose (Jeeps) vehicles left behind by the US Army.

What was really a consequence of extreme need we celebrated as the icon of Filipino “ingenuity.” What belongs to the museum as a relic of bad, unsafe and uncomfortable design, the militant groups want to keep on the road, the better to congest traffic flow and dirty the air.

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But then again, for the political Left, the jeepney drivers are a protected species.

During the mid-nineties, I worked with a team conceptualizing the design for a national identification system. Building that system was necessary as part of the need to build a national database to support a modern passport system. Its use was made all the more attractive by the availability of modern digital technologies, such as laser-backed cards, than may hold information critical during emergencies.

My first idea was to build this national identification system around the voters’ ID card since this system was envisioned to eventually contain biometric information. I pitched the idea to then Comelec chair Bernardo Pardo who found the possibilities interesting.

Later, the various identification cards (SSS/GSIS, the BIR’s TIN, Philhealth, driver’s license and others) could be collapsed into a single card protected by the holder’s password.  This will now be the national ID system. At that time, I proposed that it be called an access card for government services to make it more…

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