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PhilSys 2020: An update on the National ID system in the Philippines

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The Philippine Identification System or also called as ‘PhilSys’ proposes the simplification of private transactions and public dealings using a centrally government-owned identification database.

Despite its past controversies when it was still being discussed in the Congress and the Senate as it may compromise the right of a citizen’s privacy, the President still signed it as a law and sought it useful during state emergencies.

However, many local government units, congress house members, senators, and other public figures seek to block its implementation. Even regular citizens have stated their ire against it as the government’s security mechanisms may not be sufficient. Another reason is the lack of information dissemination which leads people to ignorance of the law.

To help you learn more about the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys), here are the main points that you should know and understand to clear out cloudy judgments and hasty conclusions regarding the law:

The legislative history of the PhilSys

Creating a nationwide system for identification has been first proposed under the supervision of former President Fidel V. Ramos. It was in late 2001 when Senator-elect Panfilo Lacson first lobbied its establishment yet it was only under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration that it made progress in the legislative houses of the Philippines.

In 2016, Former Senator Antonio Trillanes III and Quezon City Congressman Feliciano Belmonte Jr. officially filed Senate Bill No. 95 and Representative Bill No. 12, respectively. After the third and fourth reading of the bill on the Congress, they came up with House Bill No. 6221 or the Filipino Identification System ‘FilSys’ with 142 votes and 7 cons.  

When the bill was passed in the Senate, Senator Panfilo Lacson authored and presented the Senate Bill No. 1738, commonly known as the ‘Philippine Identification System Act of 2018’ or PhilSys on a compulsory basis. It passed after its third and last reading on the 19th of March, 2018 with only Senators Risa Hontiveros and Francis Pangilinan who voted against the act.

In the first week of May 2018, the Bicameral Conference Committee was held and approved the bill authored by Senator Panfilo Lacson containing just minor considerations and revisions. A ratified version of the Senate bill was approved on the 29th of May while the House of Representatives consolidated their own on the 30th.

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Philippine Identification System (R.A. 1105)

The Republic Act No. 1105 or the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) Act has been officially passed into law last August 6, 2018. It aims to establish a singular, inter-government agency, and nationally-recognized identification database, system, and physical or virtual card for all residents of the Philippines. This means that this act includes all natural-born Filipinos across the globe and foreign permanent or alien residents of the Philippines.

The card will be called as PhilSys ID

Every record logged in the database of PhilSys is official, valid, and sufficient proof of identity in all government offices as well as private or commercial establishments who require identification and background check of a citizen. The document that will be produced by the system should be called PhilSys ID and it will be part of the primary valid IDs in the Philippines to be used for private or public transactions.

Your PhilSys ID’s structure

Taken and approved from the Senate Bill No. 1738, each PhilSys ID will contain all permanent physical features, residence, and a unique number identifier. Each printed copy will bear 13 details which include a facial image, the full name indicated on the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) birth certificate, sex, permanent address, birth date & place, blood type, biometrics (iris and fingerprint scan), and the PhilSys Number (PSN) of the citizen or resident.

Filed under the House Bill No. 6221, every Filipino citizen or resident who has an age of 18 years old and above should be required to obtain one as long as he or she has a PSA-certified birth certificate. It will also include some optional features such as marital status, contact number (landline & mobile), and valid email address. Your unique identifier number will be attached to your name forever.

See also: ‘New normal’ House Bill 6623 explained

Application and usage of PhilSys

Once PhilSys has successfully stored and produced a record with a person’s demographic and biometric details, all PhilSys ID holders are eligible to apply for access to some of the government-funded and various commercial services. You will be entitled to social benefits and welfare funds given by the government with easy transactions on tax-related cases, smooth employment, and banking.

In addition, you can present and submit a copy of the ID if you want to apply for Driver’s license, passport, visa, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and voting registration. This can also be used for admission in all Philippine-based schools, colleges, universities, and other educational institutions. You can also use this to claim your benefits from a government hospital and clearances for criminal cases.

The act needs to transpire for a year before its binding power takes effect. Thus, every Filipino citizen or foreign resident need to visit established registration booths and center to have their information captured in the dataset registry. Some of the on-site registrations can take place in PSA Provincial and Regional Offices throughout the Philippines, Civil Registry Offices, Commission on Elections (COMELEC), and Philippine Postal Corporation (PhilPost).

Government agencies who serve a specific market audience are also accepting applications such as the Social Security System (SSS), Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF), Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), and Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth). This information can only be accessed by third party bodies under legal authorities or government-mandated circumstances.

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The current status of PhilSys

The pilot run of the PhilSys was first made among the members of the Congress, House of Representatives staff and its office employees last 25th of November to the 5th of December 2019.

The dry run tests the functionalities, ease of use, and security protocols for the data-capturing and registry systems. The nationwide registration will start in the middle of 2020 headed by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). They aim that all Filipinos will be enrolled as PhilSys ID cardholders by the last quarter of 2022.

In addition, the government will appoint officials and staff to become implementing heads and members of the PhilSys Policy and Coordination Council.

This will come from the government agencies such as Social Security System (SSS), Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Bureau of Treasury (BTr), and Department of Finance (DOF).

The budget for the said measure has been allocated with more than Php2 billion and it is scheduled to run from June 2020 to 2022. However, the Senate has implored the related government agencies to fast-track the process implementation to protect from red tapes and useless pork barrels. Also, the PSA has reported that they are currently doing system calibration among its data centers and civil registry.  

UPDATE: Unfortunately, because of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the roll out of the PhilSys National ID system has been delayed. But according to Undersecretary Claire Dennis S. Mapa, the program is still expected to register most of the Philippines’ population by 2022.

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