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Credit: Senator Panfilo Lacson

Credit: Senator Panfilo Lacson

Philippine Identification System empowers citizens to exercise rights and allows access to services

An announcement made by the Philippine House of Representatives (Philippine Congress) highlighted the benefits of establishing the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys, which include proof of identity, empowerment to exercise rights and privileges as well as access to vital services.

Education, social protection, healthcare, banking and finance are some of the vital services that can be accessed by the Filipinos once the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) is established, said one of the principal authors of the measure creating a national identification system in the country.

“The PhilSys is particularly important for vulnerable sectors of our population, like those who are marginalized and living in poverty and those living in remote areas. Once they have the means to prove their identity, people will be empowered to exercise their rights and privileges and access basic services,” said Camiguin Representative Xavier Jesus D. Romualdo.

PhilSys is a single national identification system for all citizens and resident aliens of the Philippines. This unified system will promote seamless delivery of service, improve the efficiency, transparency, and targeted delivery of public and social services, and enhance administrative governance.

Moreover, the National ID is expected to reduce corruption, curtail bureaucratic red tape, avert fraudulent transactions and misrepresentations, strengthen financial inclusion, and promote ease of doing business.

Every Filipino and resident alien of the country shall be identified through the use of a unique and permanent PhilSys Number (PSN), which is randomly generated. It shall be the standard number assigned to each individual to be incorporated in all identification systems of government agencies. 

According to the Identification for Development initiative of the World Bank, over 16.3 million Filipinos do not have proof of identity and are hindered from availing of government and financial services. Concerns raised by critics against the national ID system involve infringement on the rights and privacy of the citizens. 

Rep Romualdo, a member of the bicameral conference committee, dispelled these by saying that Congress assures only basic personal information will be stored in the PhilSys and this information will be protected and kept confidential.

“Only one’s name, sex, address, date and place of birth, blood type, and biometric data, such as facial photo and fingerprints, are required to be entered in the PhilSys. Furthermore, disclosure of and granting access to stored data and information to anyone, even to law enforcement agencies and the military, is prohibited and penalised,” Rep Romualdo explained.

Disclosure of information, according to the reconciled version of the bill, is only allowed when the registered person has given his or her consent, specific to the purpose prior to the processing.

Information can also be disclosed upon order of a competent court, when the compelling interest of public health or safety so requires as long as 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.

Information obtained as a result of any unauthorised or illegal disclosure is inadmissible in any judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative proceeding.

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