Senate Bill No. 1738 / Committee Report No. 277
Philippine Identification System Act of 2018
March 12, 2018 at 3 o’clock in the afternoon
Session Hall, Senate of the Philippines, Pasay City
Delivered by HON. WIN GATCHALIAN, Senator of the Republic:
Mr. President, esteemed colleagues, good afternoon to you all.
In a developing country like the Philippines, one of the most critical responsibilities of government is to ensure the speedy and efficient delivery of basic social services to the people. The most underprivileged sectors of our society depend on the social welfare security net of the State to aid them in the fight against hunger and poverty. Thus, poor Filipinos have the most to gain from efficient governance. They also stand to lose the most when bureaucratic red tape hampers the capabilities of government to deliver.
To illustrate, allow me to offer some insights gained from the inquiry launched by the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs to craft solutions which will shield the poorest Filipino families from the rising inflation we have been experiencing since the beginning of the year. One such solution we identified was to fast-track the rollout of the government’s expanded unconditional cash transfer program, through which the State will endeavor to more than double the number of beneficiary families who receive cash transfers from the government. From 4.4 million families, now 10 million families categorized as poor or near poor will receive an additional 200 pesos per month from the government. As prices of essential commodities, especially food, continue to rise, the efficient delivery of the cash to program beneficiaries is essential to ensuring that working-class Filipinos will be able to put enough rice on the table to feed their families.
While this is certainly a worthy program, Mr. President, its implementation poses a potential bureaucratic nightmare. Identifying the additional 5.6 million working-class families to bring into the program is a daunting task. Due to the remoteness and inaccessibility of their homes and communities, many of these people are “off-the-grid” – meaning that the amount of information the government has on them is severely limited. There might not even be any record of them at all in government databases. Mr. President, this lack of information puts them in danger of falling through the holes of the social welfare security net. This is something that we must address at once.
Fortunately, Mr. President, the Philippine Identification System Act of 2018 is poised to address this issue head-on by establishing a central identification platform for all Filipino citizens. From the moment of birth, each Filipino citizen will be registered in the PhilSys Registry. Through this centralized process, every Filipino will be given a Phil ID – a single identification card that can be used to transact with all government agencies providing front-line services.
Through this system, Mr. President, the government will be armed with the information it needs to deliver critical social services efficiently and effectively, straight to the citizens who really need them. This is a crucial intervention right now, at a time when our impoverished countrymen are suffering under the great burden of rising prices. Aside from providing the backbone for the swift implementation of the cash transfer program, the PhilSys program will also allow us to implement other key points on our counter-inflation agenda, such as providing a 10-percent discount on public transportation fares and rice for poor Filipinos.
Moreover, this bill will also help eliminate wastage, by ensuring that these welfare resources are being distributed to real Filipinos who are truly qualified to receive them. Ghost beneficiaries and the like will soon be a thing of the past. Additionally, this system will allow Filipinos to easily transact with government agencies with less paperwork and, ultimately, less hassle.
Mr. President, based on the foregoing, it is clear that this legislation is a win-win solution for the government and its citizens, who will both benefit from the boost in government efficiency it will provide. I am proud to co-sponsor this measure, and I applaud the principal sponsor, Senator Ping Lacson, and the other co-sponsors for championing this important piece of legislation. I urge the members of this body to take swift action for its approval – especially given its positive implications for the rollout of the cash transfer program and other key counter-inflation measures.
Thank you, Mr. President.