THE country's Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) is set to start in November this year to improve the distribution of relief assistance to vulnerable sectors of the community especially amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

Philippine Statistics Authority-Davao Regional Director Pepito Amoyen, in a virtual Bizforum held in coordination with SM City Davao and San Miguel Foods on Wednesday, August 26, 2020, said they are now starting to hire a registration team to kick-start the program in the region.

"The plan is to start it by November but we are still awaiting instructions from the central office," he said.

He added that crucial in starting the program is the system integrator.

"The target would be the household heads of the poorest of the poor. At present we are hiring pre-registration team, they'll be assigned in interviewing the household heads," Amoyen said.

Once the system integrator will be made available, household heads will be notified for recording their biometrics, iris scan, and picture. He added that the printing of the IDs will be done by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles in a media forum in July that the national ID system will be very instrumental in carrying out the social protection measures of the government.

"We hope to be able to implement the national ID this year so that mas madali po ang pagbibigay natin ng mga social protection/interventions ng gobyerno gamit ang national ID (We can fast-track the social interventions of the government using the national ID)," Nograles said.

President Rodrigo Duterte expressed his frustration that the system is still not implemented two years after he signed it into law.

In May, the President announced in his weekly report to Congress that the government is eyeing to register five million low-income households under PhilSys by December 2020.

"The Philippine Statistics Authority is fast-tracking the full implementation of the Philippine Identification System to improve future targeting and distributing of financial assistance to poor and low-income households," Duterte said.

Meanwhile, PSA-Davao assured that it will start the 15th Census of Population and Housing (CPH) 2020 in September even with the ongoing pandemic.

The agency, he said, will complete its work by May next year. The projection of Davao Region's population as of July 2020 is at 5,290,869.

Considering strict quarantine procedures in certain barangays, Amoyen said they have prepared other mechanisms in conducting the census.

"The interviews will either be face-to-face or the telephone-assisted interviews," he said, adding that the respondents have options on what mode of interview they are most comfortable with.

In instances of telephone-assisted interviews, he emphasized that enumerators will still visit the residence to check on the characteristics of the house.

In conducting the 2020 census, PSA-Davao has hired 7,121 personnel. Of this number, 5,792 are enumerators, 1,144 are team supervisors, and 185 are census area supervisors.