A consumer advocacy group calls on the government to speed up delivery of the Philippine national identification cards, saying it would “accelerate the digital transformation of all sectors in both public and private enterprises, and is critical for a sustainable and inclusive economic growth.”
“We have to be clear that this is not just any other ID card,” said Orlando Oxales, leader of the CitizenWatch.
“Validation of a person’s identity establishes trust in the fulfillment of all kinds of transactions and opens up opportunities to successfully participate in the fast-growing digital ecosystem,” Oxales stressed.
“Eventually, with a well-implemented ID system using biometrics, we won’t even need an ID card because printed cards can be faked, anyway,” Oxales said, adding that the ID system is a game-changing digital platform and will be integral to an emerging digital economy.
Republic Act 11055, or the Philippine Identification System Act, was signed into law in August 2018 and aims to establish a single national identification system for all citizens and resident aliens
The PhilSys will provide a valid proof of identity “as a means of simplifying public and private transactions, and shall be a social and economic platform that promotes seamless social service delivery and strengthens financial inclusion for both public and private services,” according to the PhilSys website.
“If implemented and executed right, the result would be secure, simplified, and efficient in-person or online transactions is key in the government’s drive to promote the ease of doing business across the economic horizon,” Oxales said.
The PhilSys site lists some benefits of an active national ID system: making services more accessible, promoting ease of doing business, enhancing the integrity of services, reducing fraud, enabling and promoting participation in digital government and the digital economy, and empowering Filipinos to have greater control over their personal data, thus contributing to greater transparency and accountability for how data is used in the Philippines.
For Oxales, the advantages of a secure and fully operational digital ID system has great implications for our economy.
“It will expand access to financial technologies to empower more productive participants across all sectors of the population,” he said. “This will dramatically ease the way we transact business and competitiveness.”
The identification system will also boost e-commerce because we will know whom we are dealing with online. “No more anonymous parties and misrepresentations in online selling platforms,” he said.
“This will instill seller and buyer responsibility and discipline, effectively preventing online fraud and scams.”
Government services and functions will be more efficient with the national ID system in place.
“The efficiency of public services in national agencies and local government units will be enhanced. We save time and effort because we would no longer need multiple government IDs to show proof of identity and transactions will be faster.” Oxales said.
The ID system, through biometrics that ascertain a person’s identity, will also help discourage crime and provide a boost to law enforcement.
“The enforcement of the SIM Registration Act will also be facilitated by linking each SIM to a user’s PhilID making each call and SMS message traceable to the individual subscriber.” Oxales added.
He cited recent NTC data reporting 11,219,722 SIM cards registered as of January 2, 2023. “This could have been much faster had the PhilID been already operational.”
Still, Oxales said, all these gains and the overall success of the national ID system will hinge on the development of our digital infrastructure that would, in turn, deliver stable and fast connectivity on a nationwide scale.
“This is why public-private partnerships in the digital and telecommunication industry are crucial. We have to have the infrastructure backbone in place so all Filipinos will benefit as envisioned,” Oxales said.