By Raadee Sausa, August 17, 2022; Daily Tribune

The national identification system is gearing toward the rollout of the digital ID, particularly its printable version which is set to be launched in October and shall primarily be issued to social protection program beneficiaries, a Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) official said Friday.

“By the end of the year, PSA is also set to introduce the mobile version of the digital ID. Currently, we are fine-tuning implementation details for the pilot of this digital ID before its launch,” PSA Undersecretary Dennis Mapa told the Daily Tribune in a Viber message.

The undersecretary said that regardless of the format, the physical PhilID card and the digital ID have the same functionality and validity.

“True to its purpose as a digital ID system, the digital formats also aim to accelerate our transition to a digital economy and give registrants the option to have their digital PhilID printed, downloaded, or generated in the mobile app for their use while waiting for their physical ID,” Mapa added.

Moreover, he said that the digital ID also aims to promote inclusivity, as its printable version shall prioritize social protection program beneficiaries to provide them immediate access to financial and social services.

The printed, downloadable, and mobile versions of the digital ID are intended to be launched this year.

Earlier, the PSA said that it will release three types of physical national identification or PhilID cards — in print, downloadable and mobile formats.

The PSA said it is eyeing the delivery of 30 million physical cards and the establishment of 20 million digital national IDs this year.

The digital PhilID will have similar validity functions as physical PhilID cards, which are now being distributed by the PSA’s official courier partner, the Philippine Postal Corp. (PHLPost).

Security features

The printable digital ID format would also contain security features, such as those in physical cards, the PSA added.

It also has a unique digital signature, embedded in a quick response (QR) code for safe authentication, which can be validated through the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) check.

Registrants’ demographic data can also be readable in printed format.

Earlier, Fred Solleta, deputy National Statistician of the PhilSys Registry Office, assured that the PhilID, regardless of its format, will be functional and accepted as valid proof of identification. Acquiring all formats of PhilID will be free of charge.

“The PSA is continuously working on the printing and delivery of PhilID cards to close the gap between the number of registered individuals and cards delivered,” Solleta said.

Moreover, Mapa, also said the low-income earners would be prioritized in the provision of PhilID.

“This will immediately allow better access to more financial and social protection services through the provision of a free valid proof of identity while waiting for their physical ID,” he added.

The PSA said the digital PhilID is part of the government’s proactive strategy to push for financial inclusivity, through the implementation of the PhilSys.

The government will also prioritize the beneficiaries of the social protection program in the provision of the printed PhilID format.

“Low-income individuals have always been our priority. The PSA will still continue to prioritize these individuals as we roll out the printable version of the digital ID,” Mapa said.

The PSA said the digital printed PhilIDs, and the downloadable mobile ID application can be useful to owners while waiting for their physical PhilID cards to be delivered.

The PHLPost will try to send the PhilIDs house-to-house, with the “plaza-type” distribution to be implemented for owners who were not home during the first and second attempts of delivery.

Digital transformation

Furthermore, to heed President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s directives during his first State of the Nation Address (SoNA), the PSA said it would maximize efforts to issue 30 million national IDs by the end of 2022 and reach the target goal of 92 million by the middle of next year.

Marcos cited that the PhilID is crucial to pushing digital transformation in the country.

Former president Rodrigo Duterte signed the PhilSys Act or Republic Act (RA) 11055 in August 2018, allowing Filipinos to acquire a PhilID, which aims to boost seamless government and private services where they will only need to present one ID during transactions.

The PhilID shall be a valid proof of identity and a means of simplifying public and private transactions, enrollment in schools, and opening of bank accounts.

Meanwhile, the President, earlier, ordered the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to speed up the printing and distribution of PhilID cards.

The President said the plan is to print more than 50 million IDs so that can be used by early next year.

“Hopefully, we can get most of these IDs either in physical form or in electronic form already available before the end of the year, and that’s the instruction of the President,” NEDA chief said earlier.

In December, the PSA has reported that over 50 million Filipinos have registered for the PhilID, reaching its benchmark goal for 2021.

But only 14.3 million of the IDs have been delivered nationwide as of early June, the PSA said.

In a previous press briefing, Marcos said he finds the level of issuance as “way below” target.

The ID will help eliminate fake beneficiaries from social support programs, enabling the government to single out individuals who require financial aid during times of crisis.