By Camille A. Aguinaldo and
Charmaine A. Tadalan
“They agreed to adopt the Senate version with minor amendments,” Senator Panfilo M. Lacson told reporters.
“Ngayon, maisasabatas na po ‘yung (Now, we have passed the) Philippine ID System that will cover all Filipino citizens living in the Philippines or abroad and at the same time, resident aliens,” House Deputy Minority Leader Alfredo A. Garbin, Jr. for his part said in a press briefing.
The House of Representatives panel led by Laguna Rep. Sol Aragones and the Senate panel led by Mr. Lacson reconciled late Tuesday the disagreeing provisions of the bill in a bicameral conference committee closed to media.
The national ID system bill seeks to institutionalize a single official identification for all citizens and foreign residents in the country. Under the bill, a “PhilSys Number” is assigned to each individual and this will be incorporated in all identification systems of government agencies.
Mr. Lacson said he hoped the proposed measure would be signed into law before President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s third State of the Nation Address in July. The program is also expected to be implemented within the year as funding of P25 billion has been allocated by the government.
“Give or take by June-end, it will become a law…. This is a landmark legislation. It’s been languishing in both Houses for 18 years,” he said.
The bill has been identified as among the priority measures of the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC).
Mr. Garbin for his part said, “The Speaker wants it to be ratified before the adjournment sine die.”
Among the House measures retained in the bill is the provision indicating the specific data that will be collected from individuals such as full name, sex, date of birth, place of birth, blood type and address. Marital status, e-mail address and mobile number are optional information.
Biometric information will be collected as well, which will be composed of the front face photo, full set of finger prints, and iris scan. Initially, biometrics only required prints of the thumb and index finger.
The proposed law also aims to simplify the current ID system in the country, as it will allow registered individuals to present the ID in renewing their passports, drivers’ license, and securing NBI clearance, among others.
The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has said the national ID system would improve the delivery of government services.
Finance Undersecretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua also said the passage of the bill would also allow easy access for poor citizens to avail themselves of food and fare discounts provided by the Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.