By Czeriza Valencia, August 11 2018; The Philippine Star


Image Credit to Rappler

The newly signed Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) Act will be first implemented in selected regions in the coming months before the full five-year implementation, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said yesterday.

The law will pave the way for the creation of a national identification system. NEDA said this will help ensure the majority of Filipinos would have access to public services.

A national ID system will also minimize leakages in implementing the conditional and unconditional cash transfer programs and other social welfare programs. Likewise, it will help ensure that the cash aid will reach the legitimate beneficiaries.

NEDA’s attached agency, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), will spearhead the implementation of the ID system assisted by NEDA and other pertinent agencies.

“In the coming months, the PSA, in collaboration with Council member-agencies, will be conducting a pilot implementation in selected regions in the Philippines. The pilot test aims to lay down the registration process prior to the full five-year implementation starting 2019,” NEDA said.

President Duterte on Aug. 6 signed the PhilSys Act. He said the program would cut red tape, reduce corruption, improve the delivery of basic services and serve as a tool to keep the public safe.

Multilateral development agencies have been saying in studies that many Filipinos cannot avail themselves of government services because of lack of proper identification documents.

Seniors to benefit

The ID system will benefit the country’s senior citizens, according to election lawyer Romulo Macalintal.

Macalintal, an advocate of senior citizens’ rights, said at present, there is still a lot of confusion or issues raised as to the kind of ID that elders could use to avail themselve of their senior discounts.

He said some establishments would not give senior citizens their discounts without the card issued by the local Office for Senior Citizens Affairs.

Macalintal said there are local government units giving additional benefits to senior citizens over and above what the law provides but for them to avail themselves of such benefits, he or she is required to present the ID issued by the LGU to make sure that he or she is a resident thereof.

He also said even those who are not yet senior citizens when their national ID is issued do not need to apply for senior citizen’s card once they reach 60 years old since the national ID contains his or her date of birth.

Vulnerability of LGBT community

However, members of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community may become more vulnerable to discrimination with the impending implementation of the PhilSys, according to advocates.

Naomi Fontanos, a transgender woman, urged the PSA to ensure sensitivity in the implementation of the program, particularly for members of the LGBT community.

The LGBT advocate said trans people whose social gender presentation does not match their gender in their legal documents may be vulnerable to abuse if establishments start asking for an ID that would reflect their sex assignment at birth. –