News : Philippines Plans National ID-like System by 2013
MANILA, Philippines, June 29, 2011 -- Government plans to capture Filipino adults’ biometric data by 2013 to give each citizen a unique reference number he can use in transacting business with any state agency.
Secretary Ivan John Uy, chairman of the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT), clarified the scheme is not a "national ID system," which in the past raised fears of state espionage and exposure to identity theft.
"It is not a common ID (to be used in all government agencies)… but a common reference number… It’s a ‘digital ID management system,’ if you will; definitely not a national ID system," Uy told journalists after speaking at the National ICT Summit Wednesday morning at the EDSA Shangri-la Manila.
The event gathered around 100 ICT (information and communication technologies) decision-makers and stakeholders in the public and private sectors and launched the Philippine Digital Strategy (PDS).
This scheme lays out the Aquino administration’s plan to use ICT to improve government services and help the economy.
Uy said his agency’s role will be to champion sharing of data – as in the case of the ID project - and help various agencies work together, and get rid of bureaucratic silos that have prevented cooperation in the past.
Uy said he expects possibly up to a billion pesos a year, tucked in various government agencies, to be earmarked beginning next year for the PDS.
The digital ID management system calls on each of the agencies capturing the biometrics for various purposes – voting records for the Commission on Elections (Comelec), tax payments for the Bureau of Internal Revenue, or social security details for the Social Security System – to maintain current databases of citizens’ records. These agencies, however, will be mandated to share the records so citizens do not have to have their biometric data repeatedly captured.
"We want all of them (agencies) to share. We don’t want a central repository (of citizens’ biometric data). Comelec will have their own, SSS will their own (databases)," Uy said.
Billions are expected to be saved from the move, he said.
This ID system is just one of several the PDS will be rolling out in its five-year plan ending 2016.
The others include centralizing government "hotline" and payment systems.
The first one calls for the setting up of a central contact center that citizens may call for all their various concerns, and is set up like a call center. The second one involves an electronic payment scheme that allows citizens to transact with government using electronic devices.
"It is appalling that the Philippines is the number one contact center in the world and we don’t have a central contact center," Uy said about the 911-like hotline.
Once in place, this will allow citizens to call a number without the hassle of having to figure out, for instance, whether it is the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority or the police that they should ask about flooding in their area, Uy said.
The electronic payment system, on the other hand, is meant to plug pilferage in the handling of cash when money exchanges hands in government transactions. This is viable given the many digital modes now commercially available, he said.
These PDS projects are in various stages of consultation, planning and even execution, especially since the 2011-2016 strategy builds on the four-year Philippine Strategic Roadmap for the ICT which ended last year. It covered four major areas, namely: ICT Infrastructure, cyber services, human capital development and e-Governance.
The new strategy "looks at how ICT can make a difference in key areas such as government and governance, in education, our economy, in employment and our industries and small businesses. It also tackles how it can be used for national development, empowering citizens, fighting corruption and poverty, and transforming government. This strategy aims to show how ICT can help fulfill the priorities of the Aquino Administration," its primer said.
Uy said the PDS has not only garnered buy-in from other government officials. In fact, many in the Economic Development Cluster in the Cabinet have been involved, one way or another, in the strategy formulation and consultations, Uy said
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Thursday, June 30, 2011