Sen. Gatchalian: National ID system needed for quicker response

Published April 3, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Hannah L. Torregoza

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian urged the government on Friday, April 3, to fasttrack the implementation of the national ID system.

This is to ensure quicker response to prevent a repeat of pandemics like the novel coronavirus disease or COVID-19 in the future.

Sen. Sherwin T. Gatchalian (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)
Sen. Sherwin T. Gatchalian

Gatchalian noted that other neighboring countries have utilized their own version of an identification system act and has successfully contained the spread of the deadly virus.

The Philippine Identification System Act, which was signed by President Duterte in August 2018, is aimed at creating a single official identification card for all citizens that would interconnect government-issued IDs.

The senator said using the national ID system will be beneficial for the government so it can easily trace persons suspected with COVID-19 infections.

The government has started pilot testing the national ID system last year which originally was set to run up to June this year before formally rolling out the project in July next year.

The senator pointed out some countries with lower COVID-19 cases like Taiwan, which used their respective national data to trace their citizens’ travel history.

Since January, Taiwan integrated travel records from its National Immigration Agency with the National Health Insurance Administration’s (NHIA) existing database to alert doctors of their patients’ travel history. Once a patient’s NHI card is scanned, an alert will pop up if the patient has traveled to or transited through countries with high cases of COVID-19.

Gatchalian also said that Singapore made use of its National Registration Identity Card (NRIC) for collecting information for the purpose of contact tracing and other measures in its fight against COVID-19.

Taiwan and Singapore have each recorded two deaths as of March 26 while the rest of other nations grapple to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. “The Philippines may learn from the experiences of Singapore and Taiwan on how these countries harnessed their national IDs in containing the outbreak that is sweeping across the globe,” Gatchalian said.

“That’s why the government needs to implement the national ID system as soon as possible to ensure that we will be more ready in case of future pandemics,” he stressed. Gatchalian said the law Philippine Identification System Act has since been enacted into law but has yet to be fully implemented in the country.

“Napapanahon na upang ito’y gamitin bilang tugon sa mga emergency situations tulad ng krisis na nararanasan natin ngayon, (It’s high time we use this in response to emergency situations like the crisis we are experiencing today),” he said.

Under the law, the national ID System will acquire basic information to be sourced from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). The national ID cards will also be given for free.