Government studying issue of national ID starting with newborns

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Tagged. An infants foot hospital tag is seen as he stretches inside a light therapy box constructed by doctors at the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital. Manila, Philippines. April 9, 2012. Background: Jaundice is a common, temporary. and usually harmless condition in newborn infants. It affects both full-term and premature babies, usually appearing during the first week of the baby's life. Light Therapy box heals new born ifants from a condition called 'Jaundice or the Yellow Baby', a simple but effective innovation that exposes infants to the light in order for them to recover from 'Jaundice'. -- BW FILE PHOTO

By Melissa Luz T. Lopez,
Senior Reporter

THE GOVERNMENT is looking to set up a system that would issue a national identification (ID) card and number to Filipinos once they are born, which is expected to trim red tape and establish a solid registry for biometrics for general use.

A newborn baby is seen inside a light therapy box constructed by doctors at the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital. Manila in this file photo taken on April 9, 2012. — BW FILE PHOTO

“Our goal is to have a national ID issued at birth. It will then be changed when one turns 18 and can be used for transactions,” Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said in a statement yesterday. “We are looking at the Indian model, which was done in two to three years.”

Members of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s economic team have batted for plans to establish a comprehensive national ID system as a mechanism to implement targeted social welfare benefits and deter fraud.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Nestor A. Espenilla, Jr. said a biometric-based and “foundational” ID system would allow more Filipinos to avail of formal financial services, as it simplifies identity verification once every resident gets hold of a government-issued ID without the need to line up and present multiple documents.

Currently, the government issues the unified multi-purpose ID card, but only covers the services of four government agencies.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said earlier this month that the executive committee of the Legislative-Executive Development Authority Council has endorsed the National ID System Act as an urgent measure, encouraging legislators to fast-track its approval.

The proposal has been approved at the committee level of the House of Representatives.

Mr. Dominguez discussed the national ID system in front of members of the US-ASEAN Business Council, as he invited US firms to invest more in the Philippines, as it continues to enjoy favorable economic conditions.

Mr. Dominguez said the Philippines is a viable investment hub given its robust economic growth, supported by benign interest rates, low oil prices, positive credit ratings, a low debt burden, and a young work force. He also expressed confidence that the government can enact its comprehensive tax reform program, while also undertaking a major program of big-ticket infrastructure projects.

The Philippine economy expanded by 6.5% during the second quarter, the eighth straight quarter when growth beat 6%. The government targets growth of between 6.5-7.5% this year, and 7-8% annually from 2018-2022.