By Camille A. Aguinaldo

THE SENATE on Monday approved on third and final reading the unified national identification system bill, a priority measure for the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) together with the coconut levy trust fund bill that the Senate also approved Monday.

Senate Bill No. 1738 or the proposed Philippine Identification System Act of 2018 was approved with 17 affirmative votes, two negative votes by Senators Francis N. Pangilinan and Ana Theresia N. Hontiveros-Baraquel and no abstention.

The national ID system bill seeks to institutionalize a single official identification for all citizens and foreign residents in the country.

Under the proposed measure, a “PhilSys Number” is assigned for each individual which will be incorporated in all identification systems of government agencies. The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) is mandated to act as the “PhilSys Registry.”

Senator Panfilo M. Lacson, who sponsored the bill, said the measure could help law enforcers deter criminality and terrorism by facilitating the processes of apprehension and prosecution.

“An important feature of this proposed legislation is the concept of authentication or the process of verifying, whether online or offline, the identity of an individual against the registry information in the PhilSys or the PhilID,” Mr. Lacson said in a statement.

He also assured the individual’s right to privacy would be protected as the bill mentioned that the PhilSys number would only be released upon the consent of the registered person, upon the risk of public health and safety, upon order of the court and when the registered person requests access.

Once passed into law, Mr. Lacson said the National ID system is expected to be rolled out in 2019 as the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has allotted P2 billion for its implementation.