Sen. Win Gatchalian believes the proposed national identification (ID) system will help expand the coverage of the government’s conditional cash transfer program for impoverished households.
Gatchalian, who is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs, said the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) can use the ID scheme to identify and locate qualified beneficiaries for its Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).
“The national ID system can help the government in identifying communities where there are clusters of indigent families. While almost 4 million households are now covered by the 4Ps program, I think there are more poor families that the government can still help,” Gatchalian said.
He noted that the DSWD has been stymied from broadening the beneficiary coverage of the program because of lack of information about the families.
“Napakahirap po silang hanapin dahil paiba-iba po ang kanilang mga address, wala silang mga phone numbers at hindi natin alam kung ano ang kanilang mga katayuan, tulad ng kung ilan ang mga anak nila at ang mga edad nila, ilan ang nag-aaral. So ‘yung mga ganitong information, napaka-halaga para maging mas epektibo ang serbisyong binibigay ng pamahalaan,” he pointed out.
At the same time, Gatchalian acknowledged how the national ID system would augment safeguards put in place by law enforcement agencies to protect public safety.
The senator cited as an example the case of workers in the agriculture and fishing sectors, most of whom he said would not be able to present any form of identification if they would be subjected to questioning or investigation during checkpoints or other security activities.
Gatchalian also downplayed the potential effects of a national ID system on privacy rights, comparing the system to online social networks where account owners are asked to provide personal details when they register and create their accounts.
“There is no reason for anyone to be concerned about this. Almost all of us have been giving out personal information for our social media accounts, such as Facebook and Twitter. We also fill up applications and list down personal data when we apply for passports and driver’s licenses and when we open bank accounts,” he added.