Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Sulu launches own ID system

SULU, Philippines (Jan. 21, 2008) – Sulu province in the southern Philippines has launched its own citizen identification system aimed at curbing crimes and deter terrorism and served as a database for local census, officials said Monday.

Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan said the provincial ID system was launched over the weekend in the town of Patikul, whose population now is more than 50,000.

"We are going to issue identification cards in all towns and we have the support of the local government officials and the citizens themselves," Tan said.

Sulu, one of 5 provinces under the Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao, has 19 towns – Hadji Panglima Tahil, Indanan, Jolo, Kalingalang Caluang, Lugus, Luuk, Maimbung, Panamao, Omar, Pandami, Panglima Estino, Pangutaran, Parang, Pata, Siasi, Talipao, Tapul and Tongkil.

PATIKUL town Mayor Kabir Hayudini shows reporters his Citizen Identification Card during the launching of Sulu province own version of the National ID Card. Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan says the ID system will help deter crimes and terrorism in the province. (Sulu Media Desk)

Patikul Mayor Kabir Hayudini said his town will serve as a model for the implementation of the citizen identification card in other areas in the province, about 950 kilometers south of Manila.

"The people are really very supportive of the ID system and that's why we have Patikul as model for this citizen identification card system in cooperation with the Sulu provincial government, the military and police authorities and the national census (office)," Hayudini told reporters, adding, that those covered by the ID system are citizens 12 years old above.

Tan said the provincial government shouldered all expenses needed for the ID system.

"The identification card system in Sulu province is a collaborative effort between local governments, the Armed Forces (of the Philippines), the Philippine National Police and other stake holders of peace and development in the province."

"The ID system will deter crimes and prevent terrorism because it would be easy to identify those who are not from Sulu and this will protect the citizens. It will also be beneficial for business and other transactions," he said.

Tan said the local ID system is not part of the proposed national ID system.

"This is our initiative and while politicians and other groups in Manila argue about the national ID system, my province is already implementing our own citizen identification card system. This will also establish an accurate census in Sulu," he said.

A census is an enumeration of all the people of a village or a systematic and complete count of all who are living in specified places.

The local ID system includes a photo of the holder and the following information - the date and place of birth, civil status, blood type, age, address, thumb prints and sex among others.

Provincial mayors and Muslim religious leaders and business groups lauded the ID system in Sulu province. The launching of the ID system in Sulu coincided with the closing of the two-day peace caravan joined by thousands of Muslims.

The caravan was a collaborative effort of government agencies and various non-government agencies to address the immediate health, education and livelihood needs of communities affected by conflict.

Tan said the caravan, which began on Friday in the town of Jolo went around Patikul and Kalingalang Caluang towns, scene of previous clashes between rebels and soldiers.

He said the caravan was also aimed at consulting with the communities on their medium and long term concerns particularly on livelihood and employment aspect as well as provides a humanitarian face to the ongoing conflict in Sulu.

He said the caravan provided several millions of pesos in aids to support peace and development in Sulu. The Department of Education also pledged to send at least 15 tons of assorted books to different government schools in the province, Tan said.

Tan also released buffaloes for local farmers and led government officials in medical and dental missions in far-flung villages in Luuk and Patikul town during the caravan.

A similar caravan was also held Monday in Basilan province, which is also part of the Muslim autonomous region. (Sulu Media Desk)