On August 6, 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law the Philippine System Identification Act (PhilSys Act/Senate Bill 1738) which aims to establish a national ID system in the country. This means that your SSS, Philhealth, Pag-IBIG, GSIS, and even your voter’s ID will be collated into one card that will be used for all government-related transactions.

The ID will contain the following information:

  • PhilSys Number, a randomly-generated and permanent number assigned to every registered person in the Philippines
  • Full name
  • Gender
  • Blood Type
  • Date of Birth
  • Place of Birth
  • Address
  • Filipino or Resident Alien
  • Mobile number (optional)
  • Email address (optional)
  • Facial image/Photo
  • Full set of fingerprints
  • Iris scan
  • Other identifiable features

According to Senator Ping Lacson, the country currently has “33 different forms of identification issued by various government agencies;” that this ID system will “harmonize, integrate, and interconnect these countless and redundant government IDs” to “eliminate the need to present other forms of identification in a wide variety of public and private transactions, services, and derivative identity credentials.” Based on the submitted bill, the ID can be used for the following:

  • “Application for eligibility and access to social welfare and benefits granted by the government;
  • “Application for services and benefits offered by GSIS, SSS, Philhealth, HDMF, and other government agencies;
  • “Applications for passports and driver’s license;
  • “Tax-related transactions;
  • “Registration and voting identification purposes;
  • “Admission to any government hospital, health center or similar institution;
  • “All other government transactions;
  • “Application for admission in schools, colleges, learning institutions and universities, whether public or private;
  • “Application and transaction for employment purposes;
  • “Opening of bank accounts and other transactions with banks and other financial institutions;
  • “Such other transactions, uses or purposes, as may be defined in the IRR (Implementing Rules and Regulations)”

There have been fears regarding the breach of privacy and continuous surveillance due to the collection of “record history.” The National Privacy Commision, however, noted that information will only be used with consent:

“The proposed privacy-designed national ID system allows the disclosure, collection and recording of information of registered persons in the following instances: when there is consent of the registered person; when the compelling interest of public health or safety so requires, relevant information may be disclosed upon order of a competent court, provided that the risk of significant harm to the public is established and the owner of the information is notified within 72 hours of the fact of such disclosure; and when the registered person requests the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) to provide access to his or her registered information and record history.”

Moreover, the President has ensured that there is no reason to worry. According to a CNN report, he said, “The Philippine Statistics Authority shall work closely with the National Privacy Law Commission, the Department of Information and Communications Technology, and the multi-agency PhilSystem Policy and Coordination Council to address all concerns pertaining to privacy and security. There is therefore, no basis at all for the apprehension about the PhilID unless of course that fear is based on anything that borders to illegal."

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Until the PhilSys Act, Quezon City Representative Sonny Belmonte has said that the Philippines is one of only nine countries that still don’t have a national ID system.

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