Quick facts on the Philippine national ID system

Community News & Features Aug 24, 2018 at 4:00 pm

national-id-12018-04-1123-22-24_2018-05-29_15-00-30By Ysh Cabana

On August 6th, President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law enabling the Philippine Identification system, a measure that aims to create a database of everyone in the country. Are we all in for a card purportedly aimed at easing transactions with the government? Or are we exposing ourselves to a massive attack of privacy (and national sovereignty) ala Big Brother?

Kuya, what is PhilSys?

The Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) is a state apparatus for a centralized platform of all personal and information authenticated by generating a PhilSys Number (PSN). An ID card is issued to all  Filipino citizens and resident alien in the Philippines and is designed to be used in all government and private sector transactions including processing of driver’s license, passport, tax-related transactions, voters’ registration, social security system, Government Service Insurance System, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation. and the Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG Fund).

Who’s the lead in getting us IDed?

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) is the designated government agency for the PhilSys. It will work closely with the National Privacy Commission together with the technical assistance of the Department of Information and Communications Technology. A council composed of officials from the National Economic and Development Authority, budget department, finance department, foreign affairs department, and more are tasked to create the policies.

The computerized imaging technology is handled by US-based firm Unisys, contracted by PSA to collect, access, store, maintain, and manage civil registry documents.

When and where do we need to register?

Republic Act 11055 mandates every citizen or resident alien in the Philippines for free registration a year after the law takes effect. Obtaining the PhilSyS Number will be personal and compulsory as implementation is set to begin in select regions before the end of this year and nationwide in 2019. Priority will be given to persons with disability, senior citizens, and marginalized peoples including those from indigenous communities and remote localities.

Applicants can go register in PSA-designated centers and other government-owned and controlled corporations assigned by the implementing agency.

How about Filipinos abroad?

Filipinos living and working abroad can register at embassy or consular offices in their countries of location to get their assigned number. The Department of Foreign Affairs shall be in charge of providing Phil IDs to Filipinos abroad. Further details on the registration procedure for the national ID are yet to be announced.

How does it affect the lives of Filipinos, resident aliens?

The card is aimed at integrating redundant government-issued IDs by merging some 30 cards into a single Phil ID card per individual . This means a slimmer wallet or purse with lesser cards to carry. Providing your PhilID or PSN will be deemed as sufficient proof of identity, subject to verification.

What type of information will I be asked to provide?

The national ID system will require 13 sets of information, including demographic data. It will bear the PSN, full name, sex, blood type, date of birth, place of birth and home address. Residents will also be asked for biometric data, iris and fingerprints scan, as well as for facial image identification. More information will be stored in the PhilSys registry, such as mobile number, email address.

Will personal info and data be secure?

The Philippine Data Privacy Act of 2012 provides legal safeguards that ensure the security and protection of personal data. Penalties are imposed on any person who illegally discloses any PhilSys information or uses it for unauthorized purposes. Personal data may only be disclosed to enforcement or security agencies in the interest of public safety and only upon court order. In such a case, the owner of the information must be notified within 72 hours of the disclosure.

Pinoy Big Brother

However, there exists the potential for abuse. For rights group Karapatan, the law would constrict privacy rights and freedom of movement, and would expose Filipinos to surveillance while impinging on their rights to unhampered and nondiscriminatory provision of social services.

“The national ID system will be an underhanded maneuver to screen and monitor people. This law will be very much prone to abuse, considering that our bureaucracy is already littered with militarists and ex-generals who have proven their contempt for people’s rights,” it said in a recent statement.

Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna also opposed the proposed national identification system. “With Unisys having unbridled control of the civil registry system, the US government and its intelligence agencies can easily have undiminished access to all civil documents of more than 100 million Filipinos,” the partylist representative said.

As early as 1998, the Philippine Supreme Court struck down the idea of a national ID system as unconstitutional. Justice Flerida Ruth Romero said “So terrifying are the possibilities of a law …making inroads into the private lives of the citizens, a virtual Big Brother looking over our shoulders, that it must, without delay, be ‘slain upon sight’ before our society turns totalitarian with each of us, a mindless robot.”


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