Federalism shift won’t cause problems for national ID: PSA

MANILA — The proposed shift to a federal system of government will not cause problems for the roll out of the national identification (ID) system, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said on Saturday.

PSA head Lisa Grace Bersales made this assurance over a radio interview, following concerns that transitioning to federalism might confuse Filipinos in existing regions should there be changes in its composition.

Under the draft federal charter authored by the Consultative Committee (ConCom), there are 18 proposed federated regions composed of 16 symmetrical regions – the existing regions plus Negrosanon Federated Region, which will include the province of Siquijor; and two asymmetrical regions, namely the Bangsamoro and Cordillera.

In the U.S., IDs are typically state-issued. However, in the Philippines, it is not clear yet if the IDs will be issued by the federal government or the federated regions.

Bersales explained that the national ID did not indicate whether a Filipino is part of a federal system of government but merely an individual’s address.

“The national ID has no information if you are a resident of a federal government or whatever, all that’s there are their addresses,” Bersales said in Filipino.

“If you change address, you can always go back to the registration center of the national ID to update your information of your address,” she added.

Bersales, meanwhile, vowed to recruit qualified individuals to ensure the national ID’s security concerns.

“We have to be very careful in recruiting individuals to ensure the security and confidentiality of our database,” Bersales said.

Poor first

Bersales also expressed confidence that the national ID will provide victims of calamities and disasters easier access to relief goods.

“When we have a national ID, it will be easier for our citizens to access disaster relief because one look at their IDs will show that they are in a disaster-affected area,” Bersales said.

“Unlike what recently happened in Marawi, people still had to register to show that they are really from Marawi so that they can avail (themselves) of the relief,” she added

She further said that the same was true for residents of the newly-rehabilitated Boracay, which had to register to confirm that they are indeed residents of Boracay.

“If we have the national ID, we won’t have problems in identifying residents during disaster,” Bersales said.

Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, who was also on the line, echoed Bersales’ line, noting that the implementation of a national ID will help make it easier for government to identify Islamic state-inspired groups.

“We need to stop these elements and the national ID system is one of the best ways to at least control the number of people, the number of tourists coming to our country to check if they are tourists or here to go up in the mountains,” Andanar said.

On Friday, Bersales said that the government has put a March 2019 timetable to roll out the national ID system.

The government will start enrolling citizens who do not have any government-issued ID, including the poor who are beneficiaries of the PantawidPamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), indigenous people, persons with disabilities, and senior citizens.

On August 6, President Rodrigo Duterte signed the national ID law, taking out the country off the list of only a few countries in the world that had no national ID system.

The national ID shall contain a person’s PhilSys number, full name, gender, blood type, date of birth, place of birth, address, and citizenship. Marital status, mobile numbers, and e-mail addresses are optional.

Biometric information will also be recorded, including front-facing photograph, full set of fingerprints, and iris scan. Other identifiable features may be collected if necessary.