ON AUGUST 23, 1896, Andres Bonifacio and a number of Katipuneros tore their cedulas, signifying their protest against Spanish colonial rule. It signaled the start of the Philippine revolution against Spain that was followed by series of fierce fighting of Filipino bolos and spears versus Spanish muskets.

The cedula is a reminder of Spain’s tyranny against Filipinos who were branded as “indios” during the invaders’ 300-year rule. It’s a piece of paper that symbolizes the Spaniards’ oppression and tearing the same means the start of our fight for freedom and independence.

It’s funny that despite what it reminds us of it, we continuously apply and pay for it before barangay, municipal and city governments just to complete some documentary requirements needed for notarization of documents, for job applications and for other needs that is more of a mere support of one’s identity and address.

The use of the cedula was brought to us by the Spaniards, meaning that it has been used since the Spanish period in the 19th century. Its issuance however was temporarily halted during the American rule. The use of the cedula was somehow restored when municipalities and cities started issuing the same for collection of taxes from corporations and employees for the use of government service. It is known as the Community Tax Certificate or the CTC.

Recently, there were calls for the abolition of the cedula and this includes Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Kim Henares who said that the cedula is no longer needed and is just an added expense to the government for its printing, storage and delivery costs.

She added the cedula, through time, has lost its value and credibility to be used in transactions as anyone can have one anywhere he wants. In fact, along the side streets of Recto, the vicinity of Quiapo and Divisoria are vendors of fake cedulas that can instantly “issue” cedulas to anyone.

Cedulas, if used for identification purposes has not much value as the piece of document can be secured anywhere and that there are bogus copies of it proliferating on urban streets. I know some government employees who merely guess series of numbers, the dates and places as for the cedula numbers and the particulars of their issuances.

Pondering on the identification purpose of the cedula, I was reminded of the national ID system that was pushed in Congress many years ago but up to now has yet been made into law. There is some opposition to it, saying it will be violative of the constitutional guarantee on privacy. I beg to disagree on such rationalization.

The national ID system proposal, if enacted into a law, would ease the identification of the country’s citizens, facilitate government or personal transactions of individuals, would help deter crimes.

A national ID would easily identify criminals and their personal circumstances as information programmed in the card would give the reader his background such as place of birth, date of birth, his social security records among others.

Albay representative Al Francis Bichara is pushing for the materialization of the national ID system. His House Bill No. 6895 which has been approved on Second Reading last February of this year seeks to institute the Filipino Identification System.

Under the said bill, every Filipino is required to obtain a free, non-transferable Filipino ID Card from the Local Civil Registrar Offices that is valid for 10 years. It shall bear data such as the identity, the status, birth and other information of the holder.

Once realized, the national ID shall facilitate transactions and perhaps they may be used someday as replacements to birth certificates and other civil registry papers, thus will give ease to Filipinos when transacting business to offices.

I do not see any violation on the privacy of an individual as the national ID would not be publicized or circulated to anyone. It’s a personal identification card that is non-transferable and shall be used only by its holder.

It’s far better than the cedula.


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