THE government has announced that that the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) or the national ID system will be implemented in September this year on a pilot test that will cover a limited number of registrants.
Republic Act 11055 seeking to establish the PhilSys was signed into law by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in August of 2018 but is now being implemented only this year perhaps due to some opposition and concern on privacy rights.
According to Socio-economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia in interviews with the media the implementation would be on a limited scale targeting around 5,000 to 10,000 individuals during the initial roll-out of the ID system. Pernia added that the pilot test for the registration process will be those recipients of the conditional and unconditional cash transfer programs of the government, senior citizens and some government employees clarifying that they will have to check the integrity of the process before it is implemented comprehensively nationwide.
While the idea of pilot testing the Philsys is a reasonable step in determining the effectivity of the system, it would have been more prudent for the president to simply issue an executive order mandating all government employees and officials to be the first recipients of the national ID system since they are already embedded in the system.
Just like when entering government service for the first time where an employee or official of the government is registered in the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS). In becoming a member of GSIS an employee of the government is automatically required to provide certain basic personal information in order to be enrolled in the said insurance system and where an Identification card will be appropriately issued for the purpose.
So if there is any pilot testing to be done for the national ID system then the government should start with its own people. Of course those individuals or groups regularly dealing with the government either in business transactions or services should also be included in the pilot testing. This will validate the objective of R.A. 11055 particularly in Section 3 thereof which states: “The PhilSys shall primarily be established to provide a valid proof of identity for all citizens and resident aliens and as a means of simplifying public and private transactions. The PhilSys aims to eliminate the need to present other forms of identification when transacting with the government and private sector, subject to appropriate authentication measures based on a biometric identification system.”
In other words since the national ID system is a creation of the government then it is only natural that it will be tested first on government employees and officers. If it is proven successful then it can be immediately implemented on a larger scale and to include the private sector.
What is important is the benefit that will accrue in the use of only one identification to transact business or engage in services both in the public and private sectors.
To those wary of privacy intrusion it is already a given that at present even in the most mundane of tasks identification is required. From securing certifications from agencies and offices both in public and private as well as using social media through the internet.
If the only concern is privacy violation then the law itself already provides for safeguards particularly with the enactment of the data privacy law. What is important is to implement steps to further simplify and facilitate processes that have otherwise become burdensome to our citizenry because of so many identification validation requirements.