Coronavirus pandemic delays roll out of nat'l ID system -- NEDA

By Vanne Elaine Terrazola

The government cannot rush the roll out of the national identification system due to security, privacy, and public health threats amid the COVID-19 pandemic, said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua on Tuesday.

DOF Undersecretary Karl Chua (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN) NEDA Acting Director-General Karl Chua (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Chua on Tuesday was asked for updates on the implementation of the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) during the Senate Committee of the Whole's inquiry on the government's COVID-19 response.

"Ang national ID kasi, pagka-aral ko, ay hindi po natin puwede i-rush, baka magkamali kasi mayroon po tayong security, privacy at COVID-risk (The national system, as I learned, cannot be rushed, because we might commit errors that might cause security, privacy and COVID-risk)" Chua said when asked by Senator Ronald dela Rosa.

"'Pag mag-mass registration po tayo, 'yong iris scan, 'yong fingerprint, lahat po yan, 'yong ballpen, 'yong papel, ay puwede mag-spread ng virus. Kaya mag-iingat po tayo (Because if we carried out a mass registration, the iris scan, fingerprint, all of the required biometrics, the pen, papers used can spread the virus. That is why we are being careful)," he added.

Chua, however, assured the senators that the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), during the quarantine, are already working to finish the preparations for the full implementation of the PhilSys.

The national ID system was created through Republic Act 11055 which was signed into law in August, 2018.

Chua noted that it is the country's "largest IT investment" and that experts have to be consulted in its implementation since "we have no experience yet" on this.

At present, he said, the PSA is close to completing the procurement of the technology infrastructure needed for the PhilSys. The development of the India-based system has also started.

The government eyes to start with the registration of an initial five million individuals by the last quarter of this year, and then an additional 10 million next year.

Chua said heads of households will be prioritized, especially those from the poor sector, so they can be given ID cards that will allow them to immediately open bank accounts for "faster distribution of aid" from the government.

He acknowledged the need to expedite the PhilSys to address challenges in the dole-outs for informal sector families.

By the end of 2022, the PSA aims to register 90 million Filipinos out of the projected population of 110 to 120 million, Chua said.