Philippines plans single national ID system

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) will spearhead the development of a single national identification (ID) system that would “harmonize” the databases of several government agencies, including the National Statistics Office (NSO), Land Transportation Authority (LTO) and the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has tasked NEDA to come up with a draft executive order detailing the implementation of a single ID system to be initially implemented at the local level. NEDA has already submitted a draft proposal, according to Tim Diaz de Rivera, National Computer Center (NCC) director general and Commission on Information and Communication Technology (CICT) commissioner.

Rather than issue a new ID to every Filipino citizen, Diaz de Rivera said the government will initially seek to harmonize existing ID systems from agencies like the NSO, LTO and Comelec. A unique “cross-reference number” will be assigned to each citizen which can be used by different agencies to verify the records of every ID holder.

Under the NEDA scheme, LTO, for example, may verify the records of someone applying for a driver’s license that are filed in other government agencies by using this cross-reference number. “This calls for a single database of cross reference numbers which could be housed under NSO since they have the biggest single repository of data,” the NCC chief said in an interview.

Diaz de Rivera added that the government would have to put most of the budget for the national ID project on the creation of this particular database of cross-reference numbers to ensure minimum duplication. Aside from assigning cross reference numbers, the database should include additional biometrics data as well, he pointed out.

“We need to strengthen search and matching capabilities. That’s what we need to spend on the most,” Diaz de Rivera stressed. He noted that existing government resources, such as the data capture machines purchased by the Comelec, can be used to gather biometrics data, in particular facial features and fingerprints.

NEDA will most likely get funding from the one billion pesos (US$18 million) additional eGovernment Fund allotted by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) under this year’s budget. However, since several other public sector IT projects are already vying for the 1 billion peso fund, the government would have to look for additional sources of financing.

NEDA’s proposal does not specify an exact budget yet, Diaz De Rivera said. He added that there may be changes that NEDA will need to incorporate in the draft before the President signs the executive order. President Arroyo herself declared support for a national ID system although the Supreme Court has declared the proposal unconstitutional.

The President instead urged the adoption of a single ID system on the local government level. “NEDA may need help from other agencies such as Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in gathering data,” Diaz de Rivera added.

Senator Panfilo Lacson has filed Senate Bill No. 833 which seeks the creation of a single national “reference” card that every citizen can use in transacting with various government agencies.

Related links:

U.S. to help build Philippines e-gov’t infrastructure

Philippines to push against government software piracy

Philippines gov’t eyes own telecom gateway

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