National ID system gets Senate OK on 3rd reading; bicameral meetings set

March 19, 2018 - 8:09 PM
Sen. Panfilo Lacson delivers a privilege speech in August 2017 file photo (PRIB photo by Romeo Bugante)

MANILA – With a vote of 17-2, the Senate on Monday approved on third reading a bill setting up a Philippine ID system, or Senate Bill 1738, seeking to integrate the “countless and redundant” government identification cards.

Sponsors of the bill said the Philippine ID system will greatly speed up transactions in both government and private institutions. The national ID will also help curb crime, they added.

The measure provides for a single official identification for all Filipino citizens as well as foreign residents.

In the House version, however, foreign citizens are not included among those to be given a national ID.

Senators said it was important to include foreign residents because if a crime involving a foreign citizen takes place, it will be easier to identify and track them.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, spearhead of the bill and a former National Police chief, said they expect to iron out the gaps between the House and Senate version during the bicameral conference committee meetings.

Among the information to be included in the Philippine ID is the full name, facial image, date of birth, address and fingerprints of the holder.

The Philippine Statistics Office, which will be tasked to set up the system, will be given a P2-billion budget for the purpose, and is seen to roll it out in 2019.

“The only basic difference [between House and Senate versions] is that they want the ID to just be functional. Here in the Senate version, it’s a combination of foundational and functional. Foundational, meaning each and every Filipino and even resident aliens who are here for at least 180 days will be armed with a legal and valid identification or identity,” Lacson explained, speaking partly in Filipino.

“The functional [has some issues because] we have 33 functional IDs—driver’s license, post office, GSIS, SSS etc. Do we want to incorporate all of those in one ID? We are not yet ready for that. So, most likely we will tackle that in the bicam. In the House version, it will be issued to anyone 18 years old, excluding resident aliens. In our version, we included them. Why? Well, if a resident alien defrauds a Filipino, for example, we’d have no way of identifying the resident alien. It’s better that we know them as well so they can be easily identified. Even when they transact with government and private entities, it will be easier to know them.”

Even infants will be given temporary PHILIDs. Those who will get their IDs as adults will have this for life.

Two senators voted against the PHILID: Risa Hontiveros and Kiko Pangilinan.

Hontiveros said she voted ‘no’ because she had wanted to include certain
amendments but was unable to do so in the last hearing when she attended to an emergency involving her child.

Lacson invited Hontiveros to join the bicameral meetings, so that her proposals can be discussed.

The Senate, however, still has to make a decision on the final list of members for the Senate contingent to the bicameral meetings.