The snail-paced implementation of the national identification (ID) system should be investigated by the Senate once the session resumes in May, according to Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Tuesday.
Sotto has been pushing for the system's full-blown execution to facilitate an organized distribution of government assistance amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) health emergency.
"The system should have been in place now if not for the red tape. I will urge the Senate to investigate why this is so when we resume," the senator said in a message to reporters.
"We passed the national ID system almost two years ago, yet it has not been implemented by government. Ibasura ang red tape and proceed!" he added.
Further, he said that partnering with the private sector for the national ID registration would be faster and cheaper than requiring the people to go to local government halls to capture their biometrics.
On early Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte said that the execution of the national ID system could have solved the discrepancies in the distribution of the financial aid under the national government’s social amelioration program.
"Nagkakaroon tayo ng problema. Hindi ito perfect kaagad. Especially so, noon pa, sinabi namin na national ID makakatulong," Duterte said in a nationally-televised address.
"Kung may ID system lang tayo, naiwasan natin itong mga ‘to," he added.
According to Duterte's third weekly report to Congress, the list of the 18 million low-income household beneficiaries of P5,000 to P8,000 cash aid was based on the 15 million poor families identified on the Department of Social Welfare and Development's (DSWD) Listahanan 2015.
"Population growth was factored in based on the official data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, resulting in the addition of 3 million more families," the report read.
"Local government units which identified additional eligible family beneficiaries can submit their lists to the DSWD for validation," it added.
Meanwhile, Sotto said the lack of coordination between the DSWD and the local government units causes the delay in finalizing the beneficiaries' list.
"I think [the] government is doing its best but more than just cooperation is needed in some LGUs," he added.
Duterte signed the Philippine Identification System Act in 2018, which seeks to harmonize, integrate, and interconnect the countless and redundant government IDs by establishing a single national identification system.
The ID will contain the PhilSys number, full name, facial image, sex, date of birth, blood type and address of the concerned individual.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Statistics Authority earlier said the mass enrollment for the ID system will begin in mid-2020. —KG, GMA News