Recto fears lack of fund may derail nat’l ID system 2020 implementation

Robie de Guzman
Senator Ralph Recto (File)

MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto on Tuesday expressed fears that the implementation of the national identification system next year might be derailed due to lack of funds.

In a statement, Recto disclosed that no funding has been allocated for the project in the “programmed portion” of the proposed national budget for next year.

“For 2020, there is zero funding for the project in the “programmed portion” of the proposed national budget,” he said.

“What is provided is a P2.4 billion ‘unprogrammed appropriation,’ which, at best, is a tentative allocation dependent if new loans or revenues can be raised,” he added.

Should the P2.4 billion materialize, the senator said only less than half of the total target number of Filipinos or 6.3 million will be registered in the system for 2020.

“But even if the P2.4 billion will materialize, it is only about 42 percent of what is needed to fully meet the project’s objectives and deliverables next year,” Recto said. “So instead of 14 million Filipinos, less than half, or 6.3 million, will be registered in 2020.”

The lawmaker fears this will trigger a domino effect and leave the project’s timetable in shambles.

“The original plan is to enroll 14 million in 2020; 52 million in 2021, including 5 million overseas Filipinos; and 44 million local residents plus 5 million overseas Filipinos in 2022,” he said.

According to Recto, the project’s goal by 2022 is to register 110 million Filipinos and resident aliens, and around 10 million Filipinos abroad in what is officially called the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys).

“To meet this deadline, 4.3 million registrants must be processed every month by the 5,000 registration kits placed in mobile and fixed registration centers,” he said. “But if the critical purchases in the early stage of implementation will not push through for budget lack, then future registration quotas will not be met.”

Recto recalled that when Congress was pressed to pass the national ID law, it was given assurance that funds were available for its implementation.

“That was two years ago when we passed the law certified as urgent by the Palace. During the debates then, we were told that the plan was to cover 100 million people in 4 years,” he said.

“But it now appears that there’s a wide gap between intent and implementation. The proof has always been in the funding. And in the case of the national ID project, it is wanting,” he added.

The PhilSys Act, signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2018, seeks to interconnect all government IDs in a single national identification system.

Known as the Phil-ID, it will contain the card holder’s unique PhilSys number, full name as well as facial image, sex, date of birth, blood type, and address. It will also contain the cardholder’s biometric information and iris scan for added security.

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