By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang welcomed the approval by the bicameral conference committee of the bill seeking to establish the Philippine Identification (ID) system
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a text message that the Palace finds the recent development a good news.
“That’s good news! It’s a priority administration bill,” Roque said in a text message to Palace reporters Wednesday afternoon.
The bicameral committee approved the Senate version of the bill Tuesday night. According to Senator Panfilo Lacson, only minor amendments were made to Senate Bill 1738 or the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) Act of 2018.
“They agreed to adopt the Senate version with minor amendments. May suggestion sila. Basta substantially Senate version yan (They have suggestions. But, substantially it is the Senate version),” Lacson said.
“Ie-enrol. Enrolled bill. Then pag enrolled ang bill, punta sa Malacañang. Within 30 days kailangan pirmahan (The bill will be enrolled. Then it will go straight to Malacañang where it needs to be signed within 30 days,” he added.
Lacson said that the implementation of the bill will be this year. It has an initial funding of P25 billion. He also hopes that Duterte will report about the National ID law during his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July.
“I hope so [it gets mentioned in the SONA]. This is a landmark legislation. It’s been languishing in both Houses for 18 years,” he said.
In March this year, Roque said he believes that President Duterte will most likely sign the bill due to the overwhelming support for a national ID system.
“I believe so, because in the last Cabinet meeting, there was an overwhelming consensus for the need for the national ID system,” the Palace official responded when asked if the President will approve the law.
“And there’s already a budget allotted in the 2018 national budget for the national ID,” he added.
Duterte, during his visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia last year, addressed the desire of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) for the Philippines to have a national identification system just like in Saudi Arabia. He said then that it would be “good” to have a national ID in the country.
The proposed Filipino Identification System will consolidate all government-issued ID systems into one to improve government services and limit red tape in government transactions. It is also seen to lower costs, streamline transactions, and provide ease and convenience.
The first time it was proposed was during the time of former President Fidel Ramos in 1996 through Administrative Order 308 but was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court (SC).
In 2005, former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo mandated government agencies, through Executive Order 420, to streamline and harmonize their ID systems under a Unified Multi-Purpose Identification System. The SC this time upheld the legality of the said EO.
However, the opposition to the proposal revolves on the perceived threat to security and violation of privacy by the government’s collection of personal information. (Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos)