Senate approves proposed law on national ID system

The Senate approved on Monday, March 19, on third and final reading a measure seeking to integrate and interconnect “countless and redundant” government identification cards (IDs) with a national identification system.

Senate Bill No. 1738 otherwise known as the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) Act of 2018, was approved with 17 affirmative votes, two negative votes by Senators Risa Hontiveros and Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, and no abstention.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, sponsor of the bill, said the system would allow the public to “easily” transact with government and private institutions. It will also help deter criminality, he added.

Lacson said the measure aimed to institute a single official identification for all citizens and foreign residents in the country.

Currently, he noted there are 33 different forms of “functional” identification cards issued by various government agencies.

The huge number of government-issued IDs may lead to “duplication of efforts, wastage of resources, and uncoordinated identity approaches,” he added.

Lacson, who headed the Philippine National Police from 1999 to 2001, said the establishment of a National Reference System could help law enforcers deter criminality and terrorism by facilitating the processes of apprehension and prosecution.

Under the bill, a foundational ID system will be in place. This will have the so-called PhilSys number, PhilID and PhilSys Registry.

The PhilSys Number is a randomly generated identification number for each individual, to be incorporated in all identification systems of government agencies.

PhilID is a non-transferable card with the PSN, full name, facial image, date of birth, address, and fingerprints of the bearer.

Under the proposed measure, the Philippine Statistics Authority is mandated to act as the PhilSys Registry.

To protect the individual’s right to privacy, Lacson said the PhilSys would only be released under the following conditions:

1. Upon the consent of the registered person, specific to the purpose prior to the processing;

2. Upon risk of public health and safety when relevant information may be disclosed, provided 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;

3. Upon order of the court; and

4. When a registered person requests access to his or her registered information and record history, subject to the guidelines and regulations to be issued by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

Lacson said the PSA would be mandated to act as a respository and custodian of all data including the PSN, registered records and information of all persons registered in the PhilSys.

The bill would also create a PhilSys Policy and Coordination Council (PSPCC) with the mandate to formulate policies and guidelines to ensure effective coordination and implementation of the PhilSys.

“An important feature of this proposed legislation is the concept of authentication or the process of verifying, whether online or offline, the identity of an individual against the registry information in the PhilSys or the PhilID,” according to Lacson.

Last Sept. 8, the House of Representatives, voting 142-7, approved House Bill 6221, or an Act establishing the Filipino Identification System.

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