The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) will register at least five million heads of poor families in the fourth quarter of this year in its bid to fast-track implementation of the national ID system.

Claire Dennis Mapa, national statistician and PSA head, said at an online seminar put together by the Makati Business Club (MBC) that the COVID-19 pandemic “warrants a stable and systematic distribution of social assistance to the vulnerable sector—the poor and low-income families.”

Being a priority program of the government the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) and its implementation sought to “help address this area of concern by providing valid proof of identity to Filipinos,” Mapa said at the online seminar on Thursday (June 18).

“In relation to financial inclusion, the national ID is designed to be a strong mechanism to aid in channeling cash assistance seamlessly to the vulnerable sector,” Mapa said.

“The issuance of the national ID to low-income household heads will directly address the lack of documentation barrier in opening financial accounts for the distribution of the cash aid,” Mapa added.

The target to register heads of poor families first will “ensure that at least one member of the identified household has a valid ID and can open a bank account,” Mapa said.

“This strategy aims to ease the opening of bank accounts so beneficiaries would simply receive their assistance digitally, and to prevent fraud and duplication,” Mapa explained.

Mapa said the PSA was closely working with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to identify heads of low-income households.

The PSA, she added, is also in close coordination with the Land Bank of the Philippines for the start of registration in the fourth quarter.

She said mobile registration could be conducted in select Land Bank branches “for the convenience” of ID holders who would open accounts.

Mobile registration teams would also go to villages while fixed registration centers would be put up in provincial offices of the PSA, Mapa said.

Under the PhilSys roadmap, Mapa said the PSA aims to register at least 40 million Filipinos in 2021, and then 42 million more in 2022.

Also by 2022, the PSA plans to start the transition from physical IDs to mobile IDs, Mapa said.

By 2023, the PSA seeks to register the entire population of more than 100 million in PhilSys and assign IDs through birth registration.

Last May, the PSA said mass registration for the national ID system before yearend came one step closer as it started bidding for its systems integrator.

In a statement, the PSA said at least 56 prospective bidders expressed interest to become the systems integrator for PhilSys.

The PSA held what is called the expression of interest conference for the bidding last month.

“The systems integrator will serve as the link to ensure the seamless interconnection of all components of the PhilSys,” Mapa said.

Mapa said these would “serve as the ‘glue’ that will bind all separately procured components into an end-to-end solution.”

The systems integrator, Mapa said, is part of four blocks of procurement needed for PhilSys.

The others are 5,000 registration kits, production of cards and biometric identification systems which is considered as “the brain of PhilSys.”

Procurement of the kits and biometrics system has been completed, Mapa said.

The systems integrator, Mapa said, would provide “cutting edge technologies that will ensure seamless integration” for the registration kits, biometrics and card production.

Mapa said the PSA seeks to award and sign the contract with the winning bidder “not later than August, in time for the start of the registration in the fourth quarter of this year.”

While the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act eased procurement processes, Mapa said the PSA “maintains stringent eligibility requirements for prospective systems integrator bidders.”

“As a priority project, the national ID cannot be delayed any further,” he said.

“That is why we have proposed alternative ways of complying with documentary requirements in compliance with pertinent resolutions issued by the Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB),” Mapa said.

“We will focus on the track record of the bidders and evaluate their suitability against the determined eligibility criteria as with all other competitive bidding,” he added.

Also, Mapa said “opening the bidding to both foreign and local eligible firms will further drive competition that would ensure the best value for Filipino citizens, and increase the likelihood of getting a high-quality, world-class, and secure systems integrator for PhilSys.”

To prepare for national ID registration amid the COVID-19 threat, Mapa said the PSA will use “the next few months to finish the required procurement and delivery of components that will allow the government to safely conduct mass registration by the last quarter of 2020.”

“The PSA is also developing registration protocols that are strictly adherent to health measures prescribed by the Department of Health (DOH), including physical distancing, sanitation of areas and equipment, and provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) to registration staff,” Mapa said.

The national ID was piloted last year, and the PSA had planned to start mass registration this year.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, President Rodrigo Duterte had expressed frustration that PhilSys was not fully implemented in time for the distribution of aid to the poor during the health crisis.

This was the reason that full implementation of the national ID law was one of the President’s marching orders to acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua when he replaced Ernesto Pernia at the state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) last April.

As Neda chief, Chua sits on the PSA board.

Edited by TSB



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