Philippines shows interest in Aadhaar

Philippines shows interest in Aadhaar

Notwithstanding controversy over its own Aadhaar, India is set to help Philippines roll out unique identification numbers for citizens of the Southeast Asian nation.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured New Delhi's support to Manila in rolling out the unique identification numbers to 103.3 million Filipinos after Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte expressed his government's interest in learning from New Delhi's experience with Aadhaar.

Modi and Duterte had a bilateral meeting in New Delhi ahead of the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit, which was held on Thursday.

Duterte and leaders of nine other Southeast Asian nations will attend India's Republic Day ceremony on Rajpath in New Delhi on Friday.

They witnessed an exchange of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Invest India and Board of Investments of the Philippines.

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi has assured the Philippine President of all possible assistance in rolling out unique identification numbers for citizens of the Southeast Asian nation," Preeti Saran, Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs, told journalists on Thursday.

She said that New Delhi had already hosted a delegation of Philippines government's officials last week for a discussion with the counterparts of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which is responsible for enrollment, authentication and issue of the 12-digit Aadhaar.

Manila sought New Delhi's assistance to issue unique identification numbers to Filipinos at a time when Aadhaar itself is caught up in controversy in India, particularly over the security of the biometric and demographic data the UIDAI has collected from citizens.

Sources told the DH that Philippines was keen to learn from India's experience in linking government benefits with the unique identification number of the citizens.

Preeti said that Modi and Duterte had also discussed ways to step up bilateral defence cooperation with particular focus on tie-ups in building warships and offshore patrol vehicles.

Duterte also conveyed to Modi that his government would like Indian pharmaceutical companies to make medicines available in Philippines at a cheaper rate.

The prime minister told the Philippine President that both sides could set up a joint working group to step up cooperation in the pharmaceutical sector.

They agreed that the JWG could meet as early as next month. They also had discussions on stepping up counterterrorism cooperation and ways to counter proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

They agreed to add further momentum to cooperation between India and Philippines, particularly in the field of infrastructure development.

They agreed that private sectors of both the countries could work together in different areas under India's 'Act East' Policy and the Philippines 'Build-Build-Build Programme'.

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