Senate approves measure for national ID system

WITH 17 affirmative votes, two negative votes by Senators Risa Hontiveros and Francis Pangilinan and no abstention, the Senate approved on third and final reading on Monday a measure which provides for a national identification system.

Senate Bill No. 1738, or the Philippine Identification System Act of 2018, seeks to harmonize, integrate and interconnect “countless and redundant” government identification cards.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, sponsor of the bill, said the system would allow the public to “easily” transact with government and private institutions. It will also help deter criminality, he added.

The measure, Lacson said, also intended to institute a single official identification for all citizens and foreign residents in the country.

He noted there were 33 different forms of “functional” identification cards issued by various government agencies.

“The huge number of government-issued IDs may lead to duplication of efforts, wastage of resources, and uncoordinated identity approaches,” he added.

Lacson, who headed the Philippine National Police from 1999 to 2001, said the establishment of a National Reference System could help law enforcers deter criminality and terrorism by facilitating the processes of apprehension and prosecution.

Under the bill, a foundational ID system will be in place. This will have the so-called PhilSys number, PhilID and PhilSys Registry.

 The PhilSys Number is a randomly generated identification number for each individual, to be incorporated in all identification systems of government agencies.

 PhilID is a non-transferable card with the PSN, full name, facial image, date of birth, address, and fingerprints of the bearer.

 Under the proposed measure, the Philippine Statistics Authority is mandated to act as the PhilSys Registry.

 To protect the individual’s right to privacy, Lacson said the PhilSys would only be released under the following conditions:

 1. Upon the consent of the registered person, specific to the purpose prior to the processing;

2. Upon risk of public health and safety when relevant information may be disclosed, provided the risk of significant harm to the public is established and the owner of the information is notified within 72 hours of the fact of such disclosure;

 3. Upon order of the court; and

 4. When a registered person requests access to his or her registered information and record history, subject to the guidelines and regulations to be issued by the Philippine Statistics Authority.

 Lacson said the PSA would be mandated to act as a respository and custodian of all data including the PSN, registered records and information of all persons registered in the PhilSys.

 The bill would also create a PhilSys Policy and Coordination Council with the mandate to formulate policies and guidelines to ensure effective coordination and implementation of the PhilSys.

 “An important feature of this proposed legislation is the concept of authentication or the process of verifying, whether online or offline, the identity of an individual against the registry information in the PhilSys or the PhilID,” according to Lacson.

Sen.Joel Villanueva said the National ID System could make social inclusion possible by providing official identification to Filipinos, most especially indigenous peoples, who usually have no access to documents required for employment, financial or banking services, and education and training.

 “We believe that a good National ID System will result to (sic) better delivery of and access to government services because it can reduce cost both to the government and the Filipino citizens,” he said.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto sakd that while he registered his affirmative vote, he reiterated the points that he raised in his sponsorship speech, and during his interpellation of the kind sponsor.

 This law, he said, will have a price tag of P25 billion, spread over five years. He said the cost would come up to P220 per individual, based on a 2022 population of 114,009, 508. 

“While card holders will get their number and card for free, they will, however, indirectly pay for it as taxpayers.  So I expect the Senate, true to its tradition of rigorously scrutinizing the budget, will be unsparing in demanding what the P25 billion could deliver,” added Recto.

Last Sept. 8, the House of Representatives, voting 142-7, approved House Bill 6221, or an Act establishing the Filipino Identification System. 

Topics: Senators Risa Hontiveros , Francis Pangilinan , Senate , national identification system , Senate Bill No. 1738 , Philippine Identification System Act of 2018 , Senator Panfilo Lacson
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