Making the first National ID work

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Even before the signing of Republic Act 11055, or the Philippine Identification System Act, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), together with the National Economic and Development Authority, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Information and Communications Technology and other agencies, has already been working hard on the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) in order to hit the ground running when the new ID is rolled out.

The PhilSys is very simple: It will only answer who you are and who you really say you are – that’s all. The primary objective is to provide identity to citizens and resident aliens in the Philippines and for those that they will transact with to be able to authenticate their identity. With the new PhilSys ID, every person who avails himself of the ID will get a 13-digit number.

The card is very convenient, with the information of the card bearer can be updated in a registration center. PhilSys will function as a database by itself and will provide facility for connectivity of different databases that will also be autonomous. There will be 11 demographic questions to be answered by the card bearer, four of which are optional.

Then, the card bearer’s biometric information will be captured.

Blood type is one of the information that is included in the ID card. When I was in Congress, I was one of the co-authors of House Bill 1530 which requires government agencies to indicate the blood type of individuals in ID, certificates and licenses.

Awareness of one’s blood type is important, especially in times of disasters or situations of medical emergency. Accidents can strike anyone anywhere, and in cases where there is an excessive loss of blood, to know the correct blood type means to save the life of the victim.

Having said this, bearing the blood type of an individual, certified by a pathologist, is essential. It does not only promote the right of health but it would also instill health consciousness.

Another important feature of the new ID is that it will cover 33 government agencies with the end goal that after four years, there would no longer be any need for the identification cards issued by these 33 agencies.

One year from the effectivity of this law, citizens and resident aliens can register in person with designated registration centers in select government agencies, including PSA regional and provincial offices, local civil registry offices, the Government Service Insurance System, Social Security System, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, Home Development Mutual Fund, Commission on Elections and the Philippine Postal Corporation. It is, however, worth mentioning that the PhilSys ID is not mandatory and no one will be forced to enroll or apply for the ID.

Eventually, one won’t even need the physical ID card. A card bearer just needs to memorize his unique 13-digit number when they transact with a government agency and that said agency will just verify your fingerprint from two fingers to authenticate who you really are.

A pilot of the ID system will be launched later this year, a mass rollout in early 2019 and a target enrollment of 25 million Filipinos every year. To implement the system in the next four years, the government will need P30 billion to fund the program as the PhilSys ID will be issued free of charge.

The PSA is working on the P2.2-billion funding that Congress has allocated this year for the national ID system. For the rollout of the PhilSys ID this year, the government will be prioritizing the enrolment of 1 million people benefiting from the Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT) program. Another 1.6 million getting UCT will be enroled in 2019.

As PhilSys ID is rolled out, rest assured that the government will continue to seek inputs and feedback from the public and from other stakeholders to ensure that the first Filipino national ID will work for the benefit of all.

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