Sat. Sep 25th, 2021

MANILA – Deputy Speaker Michael Romero on Thursday urged the government to start mass registration for the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys), commonly known as national ID system, within 60 days or not later than June 30 this year.

In a statement, Romero said the national ID’s last digits could be used to determine who can go out of their homes for quarantine, where the ID is already the quarantine pass for the containment measures of the government against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

“I suggest further that the mass registration starts in the smaller local government units (LGUs) of Metro Manila such as Pateros, San Juan, and Marikina. Mass registration could also be done in select barangays of Quezon City and Manila. Afterward, sign-ups can expand to other LGUs,” Romero said.

Romero said the current design of PhilSys can only be used to ascertain the identity of recipients of Covid-19 cash grants and other assistance.

He noted that there is no income, employment, or other status information authorized to be collected for the PhilSys, so it cannot be used for targeting or qualifying aid recipients.

“When Acting NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority) Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua goes into the details of the National ID, I am sure he will discover that it has serious data limitations,” Romero said.

“To be partly useful for qualifying beneficiaries as it is designed now in RA (Republic Act) 11055, the National ID still has to be used in combination with other databases,” he added.

Romero cited that the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) has already procured registration kits, established government partnerships for the card production and data centers, and achieved other substantial advancements in the procurement of systems.

He said the PSA would also make due adjustments to its registration protocols in light of Covid-19 and bank on its pre-registration system for an orderly registration as it is open to the public.

The government is scheduled to pilot-test the national ID system in May or June this year to about 14 to 15 million Filipinos and to roll it out by July 2021 to cover about 50 million persons.

Republic Act 11055, otherwise known as the Philippine Identification System Act, mandates that all Filipinos, as well as resident aliens in the country, be issued a national ID that will have basic information to be sourced from PSA data. The cards will be given for free.

In October 2019, the PSA and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) inked a memorandum of agreement that tasked the latter to produce within three years 116 million blank cards for the PhilSys that will have security features, which officials said are better than those used in making passports.

BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno said the government-to-government pact is better than involving the private sector to address any issue that usually arises when losing bidders question the final decision on a contract.

The national ID program costs about PHP30 billion.

Diokno said the costs of production for what he called foundational ID will be about PHP3.4 billion, or around PHP30 per card. (PNA)

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