Ople v. Torres, GR 127685, 23 July 1998
A.O. No. 308 titled “Adoption of a National Computerized Identification Reference System” was issued by President Fidel V. Ramos on December 12, 1996. Senator Blas Ople files a petition challenging the validity of the questioned AO.
The petitioner also contends that A.O. No. 308 is not a mere administrative order but a law, and hence, beyond the power of the President to issue, he also claimed that the implementation of which also violates the rights of the citizens of privacy as guaranteed by the Constitution.
Whether or not AO 308 violates the rights of the citizen of privacy guaranteed by the Constitution
The petition is granted and declared the Administrative Order No. 308 entitled "Adoption of a National Computerized Identification Reference System" null and void for being unconstitutional.
While the need to provide our citizens and foreigners with the facility to conveniently transact business with basic service and social security providers and other government instrumentalities and the need to reduce, if not totally eradicate, fraudulent transactions and misrepresentations by persons seeking basic services are valid considerations for the government, these interests are compelling enough to justify or warrant the issuance of a broad, vague and overbreadth measure of data and information recording mechanism such as the challenged AO.
The right to privacy is one of the most threatened rights of man living in a mass society. The executive branch, by issuing A.O. No. 308, pressures the people to surrender their privacy by giving information about themselves on the pretext that it will facilitate delivery of basic services. Given the record-keeping power of the computer, only the indifferent will fail to perceive the danger that A.O. No. 308 gives the government the power to compile a devastating dossier against unsuspecting citizen
The possibilities of abuse and misuse of the Population Reference Number (PRN), biometrics and computer technology are accentuated when we consider that the individual lacks control over what can be read or placed on his ID, much less verify the correctness of the data encoded. They threaten the very abuses that the Bill of Rights seeks to prevent.