ID delayed is ID denied?

Something must be amiss in the rollout of the national identification system. Reports that people have to wait as long as 14 months just to get their new ID cards are certainly unsettling and do not speak well of the Philippine Statistics Authority which has assured the public that their new ID cards would be delivered straight to their homes within six months.

Registration for the new ID card under the Philippine Identification System Act began in 2020. Yet in July this year, the PSA announced it would instead begin by rolling out electronic versions of the national ID that people would have to print and laminate in place of a government-issued card. For some who have already been waiting nearly a year for their new IDs, this was unacceptable.

The PhilSys Act, which President Duterte signed in 2018, provides for a single national identification system called “Phil ID,” which collates citizens’ data in a centralized database.

Under the law, the PSA will store a citizen’s common reference number, biometrics, voter’s ID, Philippine passport number, taxpayer’s identification number, PhilHealth number, Professional Regulation ID number, driver’s license number, and other information.

There was no problem with the registration, according to those who have taken pains to do so. It was a quick process. But waiting for the ID itself was totally different. The PSA promise was six months. The delay was just discomforting.

And when told that they could get an appointment to receive printed electronic Philippine ID, recipients still have to line up only to get a printout of the supposed card on bond paper. They were allegedly told to cut up and laminate the ID themselves.

What a hassle! Imagine waiting for almost an eternity for a piece of paper that one still has to spend for its lamination. Whatever happened to the promised PVC ID that would be delivered straight to households?

For an agency that was granted P28.4 billion for the national ID program, this does not augur well for the PSA. And to think that only about P6.8 billion has been declared spent on the project, one starts to wonder what happened to the remaining P21.6 billion.

Netizens are, ergo, up in arms over this fiasco, describing the rollout as inefficient, delayed, and faulty. It has reached a point when even lawmakers have decided to get to the bottom of the controversial rollout.

Last week, House Deputy Minority Leader Bernadette Herrera even filed a resolution to look into the national ID system’s problematic rollout. The lawmaker called for an accountability mechanism to allow a closer look into what went wrong or may still be improved in the implementation of the national ID system.

Senator Grace Poe, meantime, said waiting for six months to a year was simply an unjustifiable amount of time for an ID.

As of the last count, only 17.53 percent of the 50 million target IDs for 2020 and 2021 have been delivered, according to the Commission on Audit. There have also been complaints about IDs containing inaccurate and becoming unreadable after three months. Others said they didn’t even have their IDs registered in the database after a year and a half.

The PSA said printout, although not the national ID itself, was actually printed copies of the electronic version that would still be honored by authorities.

For a document so vital as a requirement for doing business, any delay in the rollout is certainly not acceptable. The PSA should do well to speed up the entire process to erase any doubt among the suspicious public.

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