DISTRIBUTION OF identification cards under the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) will start by April next year, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin E. Diokno announced. “The card issuance will start in April 2020,” he said on Oct. 17 at a roundtable discussion during the World Bank Group/International Monetary Fund (IMF) Annual Meetings held in Washington D.C. Mr. Diokno touted PhilSys as an important tool in the central bank’s financial inclusion agenda by providing an ID to all Filipinos, especially those in remote and underserved areas. “With the ‘Philippine ID,’ unbanked Filipinos will have a proof of identity which is a key requirement in opening a bank account…This will enable more of our marginalized countrymen to enjoy gains from and participate more actively in the country’s growing economy,” he said. A BSP survey indicates that 52.8 million adults, or over 70% of the Filipino population, do not have an account with a bank or any other financial institution as of 2017. PhilSys is authorized through Republic Act. No. 11055 or the Philippine Identification System Act, which establishes a unified identification system for both Filipinos and resident aliens.

Last Oct. 7, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) signed an memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the BSP for the production of 116 million blank cards over a three-year period. “We will print the ID at less than $1 a piece — 60 cents to be exact. We will provide the needed equipment and space for the embedding of personal information onto the blank cards, which will be done by the PSA,” Mr. Diokno explained during the roundtable discussion on Championing and Accelerating Good Digital ID for all. PSA Undersecretary Claire Dennis S. Mapa told reporters during the MOA signing that they target to issue up to 15 million IDs in 2020, 50 million in 2021, and the remainder by 2022. The PSA official also said that the pilot-testing for the registration, which started in September, shows that the documentation time per person is shorter than expected at 15 minutes, though senior citizens might take longer. The ID will be issued for free. “The journey for a national ID for the Philippines started 30 years ago. But it failed to pass one Congress after another. Finally last year, the Philippine ID System Act was passed last year,” Mr. Diokno said. — Luz Wendy T. Noble