GMA REVIVED NATIONAL ID SYSTEM IN ANTI-CRIME DRIVE

MANILA, November 29, 2003  (STAR) By Marichu Villanueva - In an apparent bid to ease public concern over the peace and order situation in the country, President Arroyo revived the government’s proposed national identification (ID) system as an anti-crime measure to protect law-abiding citizens.

Besides ordering the installation of police mobile checkpoints in strategic parts of Metro Manila, the President also ordered the police and military, under the supervision of National Anti-Kidnapping Task Force (Naktaf) chief Angelo Reyes, to use these fixed and mobile checkpoints as "chokepoints" for all suspicious vehicles cruising Metro Manila’s streets — especially vehicles that have tinted windows and "questionable plates."

"Policemen will be made to walk their beats in order to show police presence. Mobile and fixed checkpoints shall be conducted and chokepoints going to Metro Manila will be watched. Heavily tinted vehicles will be challenged. Vehicles with questionable plate numbers will be questioned. Special plates are not exempt from inspection," she said.

The President also approved the allocation of P300 million in reward money for tips and information leading to the arrest of leaders and members of notorious kidnapping and terrorist groups, local or foreign. "I am making available P300 million for these rewards," she said.

Speaker Jose de Venecia said Thursday that he has asked the House appropriations committee to earmark P300 million for this reward money to fuel the government’s anti-terrorist and anti-kidnapping campaigns.

"I also seek the implementation of the national ID system," the President said.

The proposal for a national ID system, first made during the term of former President Fidel Ramos, hit legal obstacles after it was challenged before the Supreme Court as one which violates of the constitutionally protected right to privacy.

Mrs. Arroyo, however, said her administration’s revival of this proposal is part of government’s initiatives to address the peace and order problems plaguing the country.

"These are what we are doing in the immediate term... but they need more reforms" the President said.

The President made these statements at the 29th Philippine Business Conference (PBC) at the Manila Hotel.

She is under fire from the Filipino-Chinese community for standing pat on her decision to maintain the moratorium on executions despite the recent kidnap-slaying of Coca-Cola executive Betti Chua Sy. The Filipino-Chinese community earlier asked the President to lift the execution moratorium.

"Confidence in our political stability has held steady in the face of judicious resolution of the Oakwood incident, in the face of our war against terrorism and in the face of the diminishing traumas of destabilization now that the electoral fever is catching on," she said.

Besides posters and flyers with pictures of wanted terrorists, similar materials with the likenesses of kidnap gang leaders will be published and posted in conspicuous public places, like schools, markets and "target" communities.

"I shall certify a bill to add more teeth to laws dealing with kidnapping. I have instructed the Department of Justice (DOJ) to make the Witness Protection Program (WPP) more responsive to kidnap victims," Mrs. Arroyo vowed.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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