De Lima urges Congress to review implementation of PhilSys

De Lima urges Congress to review implementation of PhilSys

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA — Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has urged the Congress
to investigate the status of implementation of the Philippine
Identification System (PhilSys) to ensure that it does not unduly
discriminate against marginalized and vulnerable groups.

De Lima filed Proposed Senate Resolution (PSR) No. 883 directing the
appropriate Senate Committee to conduct an inquiry on PhilSys amid the
setbacks brought about by restrictions to mobility due to the recent
surge in COVID-19 cases nationwide.

“Assurance must be made that once PhilSys is in full swing, social
protection programs would remain accessible to all without
discrimination, otherwise the goals and universal aims of PhilSys
would be defeated such us unlocking access to these programs,” she
added.

According to a report by Privacy International, a centralized system
of identification (ID) has been recognized by governments worldwide as
an essential component in making social services and programs more
accessible to the population, it has, however, been observed that
these systems, by virtue of their design, “inevitably exclude certain
population groups from obtaining an ID and hence from accessing
essential resources to which they are entitled.”

While the implementation of the national ID system has been a hotly
debated topic due to concerns on data privacy and even political
abuse, the process was expedited by the government in April of 2020 as
one of its responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite logistical challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, 20.7
million Filipinos had reportedly managed to finish 2 out of the 3
required steps for PhilSys registration by July 23, 2021, as the
government remains primed to achieve its target to sign up 50 to 70
million individuals by year-end.

De Lima said that, while registration is one challenge, the actual
rollout and maintenance of the system are another.

She said it is “the very reason why an inquiry must be made to
ascertain whether facilities and equipment necessary to do just that
have already been made ready and available.”

“In addition, there must be an assurance of financial capacity not
only to print the ID cards but to adequately respond to the demand,”
she added.

De Lima said the government must closely monitor the situation and
preemptively address failures in the system to cater to those who do
not squarely fit within technological systems of identification and
registration, ensuring that they “are not disproportionately
prejudiced by prerequisites to social protection.”

“It must be ensured that individuals without legal identity such as
indigenous peoples, foundlings, and others similarly situated are not
excluded from readily availing the benefits under the ID systems,” she
said.

While the goals of the program are laudable, De Lima maintained that
the government must not be too complacent in its rollout to the
detriment of the rights and civil liberties of the Filipinos.

“Railroading the program in the guise of being the immediate solution
to current problems, without any substantial proof that it would
indeed aid in relief and subsidy distribution may only serve to
engender and even reinforce prevailing socioeconomic inequalities in
Philippine society,” she said.

“Kailangang itigil o iwasan ang mga padalos-dalos at bara-barang
solusyon, na imbes na makatulong sa mga matagal nang napagkakaitan ng
serbisyo, ay lalo lang sa kanilang maka-dehado at makapagkait ng
benepisyo,” she added. (AI/MTVN)

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