Senate approves nat’l ID system bill

MANILA The Senate on Monday approved on third and final reading a bill which seeks to harmonize, integrate and interconnect "countless and redundant" government identification cards (IDs) by establishing a single national identification system.

Senate Bill No. 1738, otherwise known as the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) Act of 2018, was approved with 17 affirmative votes, two negative votes and no abstention.

Senators Francis Pangilinan and Risa Hontiveros were the two oppositors to the bill.

The Senate's approval brings the enactment of a national ID system closer to fulfillment as a version of the bill has already been approved by the House of Representatives last September.

Several measures for a national ID system have been filed in the last three decades but have all been stuck in the legislative mill due to privacy issues.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, who sponsored the bill, said that pending the resolution of the disagreeing provisions of the two versions during the bicameral conference, the PhilSys is ready to be rolled out as early as next year.

He said that the Senate version aims to institute a single official identification for all citizens and foreign residents in the country, which could be compared, to some extent, to the US's social security number which serves as its de facto national identification number.

During previous public hearings by the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, which Lacson chairs, it was found out that there are 33 different forms of "functional" identification cards issued by various government agencies.

The senator said that this results to duplication of efforts, wastage of resources, and uncoordinated identity approaches.

He said that unlike the other ID systems linked to specific services, the PhilSys will institute a foundational ID which shall serve as a legal proof of identity for multiple purposes.

The PhilSys will eliminate the need to present other forms of identification in a wide variety of public and private transactions, services, and derivative identity credentials, Lacson said.

Once enacted into law, the bill will establish a foundational ID System, to be known as the Philippine Identification System or PhilSys with three key components: the PhilSys Number or PSN, the PhilID, and the PhilSys Registry.

The bill will allow every Filipino and resident alien of the country to be identified with the use of a PSN, a randomly generated, unique and permanent identification number which shall be the standard number assigned to each individual to be incorporated in all identification systems of government agencies.

Meanwhile, the 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, a repository and custodian of all data including the PSN, registered records, and information of all persons registered in the PhilSys.

Data collected by the Philippine Registry shall be limited to demographic information such as: name; sex; date of birth; place of birth; and address.

Other information such as mobile number and e-mail address of the cardholder are optional.

Biometrics information to be collected also include facial image, full set of fingerprints, iris scan and if necessary, other identifiable features of an individual as may be determined.

The bill enumerates various government agencies as registration centers while at the same time, requires that special arrangements be made for minors, senior citizens, persons with disabilities, and persons in institutional households.

Filipino citizens residing abroad shall register in Philippine embassies or Foreign Service posts.

The bill also creates a PhilSys Policy and Coordination Council (PSPCC), with the mandate to formulate policies and guidelines to ensure effective coordination and implementation of the PhilSys.

Lacson said that in crafting the Philippine ID system, primacy was placed in protecting privacy and user rights of individuals by establishing strong legal frameworks and institutional accountability.

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

When the registered person has given his or her consent, specific to the purpose prior to the processing; when the compelling interest of public health or safety so requires, 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; upon order of any competent court; and when a registered person requests from the PSA access to his or her registered information and record history, subject to the guidelines and regulations to be issued by the PSA.

Lacson said that it would take the PSA five years and PHP25 billion to fully implement the national ID system.

First year, preparation, equipment technology, lahat. Humihingi ang PSA ng one year. Sa second year iro-roll out na (First year, preparation, equipment technology, the works. The PSA is requesting for one year. On the second year, they will roll out already), Lacson said.

Source: Philippine News Agency