25 October 2002

Victor Briz


Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino


The small sister morphing into a big brother


The limited implementation of the ID system announced by Malacanang is a calibrated move to soften public opinion to a full-scale imposition of a national ID in the very near future. Today it is "no ID then no government service," tomorrow it will be "no ID then you're a terrorist." Today is a curfew for minors, tomorrow it will a curfew for all. Gloria Arroyo is the little sister morphing into the big brother of George Orwell.


A national ID system is a patent infringement of democracy. Its efficacy in foiling terrorists is dubious while its ability to harass militants is definite. Like the cedula and the vagrancy law, a national ID and spot checks will penalize and discriminate against the poor. Its first victim will not be wily terrorists but legitimate dissenters.


A national ID is even worse than the proposal to arm barangay tanods. While the latter will give guns to petty tyrants and neighborhood toughies, the former will grant an instrument of repression to militarist generals and American puppets.


Two recent events illustrate the madness of a national ID. First, Winnie Monsod's blacklisting as a "suspicious character" reveals the danger inherent in a centralized database at the hands of national security agencies. If a well-known and well-heeled individual like Monsod can be victimized, how much more faceless and nameless workers and poor. Second, the failure of intelligence agencies to predict the recent rash of bombings despite millions in un-audited funds exposes their ineptness. The shadowy, and apparently also shady, world of intelligence agencies should be reformed so as to make them competent and capable.


Militant labor will not allow any draconian measure that is prone to abuse to be implemented or legislated. We remember well GMA's not-so-subtle declaration that she will fight "those who terrorize factories." Since GMA believes that militant unionism is a form of terrorism, then we are certain she will use the national ID to suppress workers struggles against capitalist abuse.


In fact in these last few days, plainclothes men that we suspect to be intelligence agents, visited two factories in Paranaque--the picketline of Technogas and the union office of Karayom Garments--asking for the list of their respective union officers. Since such data can easily be obtained from the DOLE, we believe these "police visibility" and "spot checks" are meant rather to harass, intimidate and deliver a message to the militant workers of Paranaque that are a stronghold of the BMP. ###