Lawmaker questions foreign control of birth, marriage certificates

Lawmaker questions foreign control of birth, marriage certificates

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate questioned yesterday why the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), formerly the National Statistics Office, has allowed two foreign companies to control the civil registry.

In Resolution 592, he said the registry is the repository of birth certificates, marriage contracts, death certificates and similar documents, and the information contained in them.

“Having foreign companies Unisys and PriceWaterhouseCoopers control the country’s civil registry system would permit them to collect and retrieve stockpile of information about Filipino citizens and share the same with their other clients, such as various branches of the US armed services and possibly US intelligence agencies,” he said.

He said Unisys has a contract with the US government for defense systems that support American Air Force logistics and operations, such as missions in Syria.

“What is more alarming is that PSA could not even disclose safeguard measures to monitor how troves of information would be kept and managed by these foreign companies,” he added.

Zarate pointed out that the Commission on Audit (COA) has “raised apprehension over foreign companies having full and unbridled control over the civil registry system, as this would surely be compromising public interest and security.”

He said the COA has taken the PSA to task for failing to sufficiently protect the interest of the government and the public.

He said the audit commission has also noted violations in the contract between the PSA and its two foreign information technology service providers, including the failure of the latter to turn over the system to the statistics agency.

He said the COA also questioned the revenue sharing agreement, “with the government getting a mere 45.5 percent of revenues.”

He added that PSA collects billions in fees annually from Filipinos obtaining copies of their birth certificates, marriage contracts and similar documents, including certifications on changes in their names.

Zarate emphasized that PSA would be having all these fees for itself and the national treasury had it undertaken the computerization of its records and not hired service providers.   – Jess Diaz