Senate probe sought on delay in nat’l ID system roll out

Robie de Guzman   •   May 4, 2020   •   903

MANILA, Philippines – Three senators on Monday said they are seeking to investigate the status of the implementation of the Republic Act 11055 or the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) following delays in the distribution of food and financial aids amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.

In a press statement, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, and Senators Panfilo Lacson and Ramon “Bong” Reville Jr. said they have filed separate resolutions to probe complaints on the distribution of assistance to families affected by the community quarantines caused by COVID-19 due to the delayed full implementation of the National ID program.

“Amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, several elective officials are calling for a ‘full-blown’ and immediate implementation of the National ID System as this would not only aid in the efficient distribution of the social amelioration program (SAP) currently being implemented by different government agencies but would also help our law enforcement agencies in fighting crimes and facilitate key government services and transactions, among others,” said Sotto and Lacson in their Senate Resolution No. 352.

“Reportedly, implementation of the said social amelioration program has been delayed because of discrepancies in the list of beneficiaries of the national government and the local government units,” Revilla said in his Senate Resolution No. 355.

The law on the national ID system was signed on August 6, 2018 while its implementing rules and regulations were signed and approved 60 days later. The measure seeks to establish a single national identification system for all citizens and resident aliens of the country.

It also aims to “promote seamless delivery of service, to improve the efficiency, transparency, and targeted delivery of public and social services, to enhance administrative governance, to reduce corruption and curtail bureaucratic red tape, to avert fraudulent transactions and misrepresentations, to strengthen financial inclusion, and to promote ease of doing business.”

In their resolution, Sotto and Lacson noted that even before the measure was approved, Congress has already allocated P2 billion for the “National ID System” under the 2018 budget of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). The entire budget for the program amounts to P25 billion.

The PSA is the lead implementing agency of the program.

“From 2018 to 2020 General Appropriations Act, a budget of P2 billion has been allotted for the National ID System, totaling to only P6.096 billion budget allocation for three (3) years,” the resolution stated.

However, since its enactment into law, Sotto and Lacson noted that there’s no significant headway on its implementation.

The PSA started the first pilot testing of the program only on the last quarter of 2019, covering a “small number of individuals” from Metro Manila, the senators said.

They added that the executive branch should roll out the National ID System to solve discrepancies in the list of beneficiaries for cash aid, noting that it was President Rodrigo Duterte who has recently acknowledged that the National ID System would have avoided the unnecessary delay in the delivery of emergency subsidy program.

“The national ID system will solve any discrepancies between local government units and database from the Department of Social Welfare and Development,” Sotto said.

Lacson, who sponsored the measure in the Senate, added there is no other time than now when it is most needed.

He also urged the National Economic and Development Authority to expedite the program’s implementation as earlier directed by the president.

“I hope the National Economic and Development Authority can fast-track the implementation of the National ID system, as directed by the President. NEDA should have ample help from the Philippine Statistics Authority as the frontline agency, and the Department of ICT which plays a major role,” he said.

“The first question is, is the system ready to accept registrants? If so, they should give priority to the marginalized sector, and those targeted for financial assistance because of the COVID-19 crisis,” he added.

The PSA said the mass registration for the National ID System has been moved from July to October this year in light of the public health emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Defense chief Lorenzana tests positive for COVID-19 anew

Robie de Guzman   •   November 17, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana confirmed on Wednesday that he has again contracted COVID-19.

In a message to reporters, Lorenzana said he was informed of his test result earlier in the day but he has not manifested any symptoms.

He said he is fully vaccinated against coronavirus.

“This morning I got the result of my swab test yesterday afternoon after the Senate hearing. I am asymptomatic,” he said.

“Yes, I am fully vaxxed. I’ll observe myself for several days after that I’ll have another swab,” he added.

The Defense chief first tested positive for COVID-19 in April and recovered.

Lorenzana took a swab test after undergoing screening for COVID-19 on Tuesday when he physically attended a Senate hearing for his department’s budget for 2022.

With this development, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said they might suspend the budget deliberations on Thursday to give way for the testing of exposed Senate staff.

Lorenzana had interactions with several senators during the session. Among those who was exposed to him were Senators Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa and Francis Tolentino.

Senators and staff who had contact with Lorenzana have been asked to undergo quarantine and get tested after five days.

DILG, provinces urge Senate to restore NTF-ELCAC’s P28B budget for barangay dev’t program

Robie de Guzman   •   November 16, 2021

 MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the League of Provinces of the Philippines have appealed to the Senate to restore the P28.1 billion Support to Barangay Development Program (SBDP) proposed by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) for NPA-cleared barangays in the 2022 budget.

In a statement issued on Monday, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said the program is “a game-changer in our battle to end Communist Terrorism in the country.”

“Unti-unti nang nararamdaman ng mga naninirahan sa mga barangay na sakop ng SBDP ngayong taon ang tunay na kahulugan ng pagbabago at pagkalinga ng gobyerno na hindi nila naramdaman sa nakaraan dahil sa mga Komunistang Terorista,” Año said.

The DILG chief noted that “there is now momentum in the fight against Communist terrorism and slashing the P28.1 Billion will send a wrong signal to the Local Government Units who have been expecting these development projects next year.”

“We must remember that the battle against the CTGs is not just a battle of arms, it’s also a battle for the hearts and minds of our people,” he said.

The League of Provinces of the Philippines (LPP) echoed Año’s appeal.

During its 8th General Assembly, the LPP said it passed Resolution No. 2021-009 supporting President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-insurgency program and urging the Senate to approve in full the proposed Support to the Barangay Development Program in the 2022 General Appropriations Bill.

“The full and continued implementation of the BDP needs to be pursued in order to bring about and sustain progress and development in these identified conflict-affected barangays that urgently need government support and assistance,” said LPP President and Marinduque Governor Presbiterio Velasco, Jr.

“The proposed projects under the SBDP which were identified by the community residents themselves, represent their collective aspiration towards genuine peace and development,” Año said.

The DILG Secretary stressed that cutting the proposed NTF-ELCAC budget next year will deprive these remote barangays of development and will make them vulnerable once more to the CTGs at a time when we have already gained significant strides in our whole-of-nation approach to defeat communist terrorism.

“Mahigit 50 taon nang naghihirap at napag-iwanan ang ating mga kababayan na nakatira sa mga bulubundukin at malalayong lugar na dati ay pinamumugaran ng mga communist terrorist groups (CTGs),” he said.

“Nakikiusap po tayo sa ating mga Senador na huwag ipagkait ang pagkakataong maramdaman nila ang pagmamalasakit ng gobyerno at malasap ang tunay pagbabago,” he added.

Año said that the P16.44-billion development projects under the SBDP this year are in full swing in the 822 insurgency-cleared barangays with several projects already completed and others in different phases of implementation.

Of the 2,318 SBDP projects funded this year, 19 are already completed, 557 are undergoing implementation, 783 are under procurement, and 959 are under pre-procurement.

Among the completed SBDP projects are livelihood projects in Barangay Mount Diwata, Monkayo, Davao de Oro; lot purchase for housing in Barangays Don Mariano Marcos, Tagbua, and Calapagan, Lupon, Davao Oriental; distribution of seed capital to poor farmers in Barangay Caduha-an, Cadiz City, Negros Occidental; livelihood project in Sangab, Maco, Davao de Oro; installation of 50 units LED solar street lights with solar panel in Barangay Darapuay, Bansalan, Davao del Sur; and purchase of rice harvesters in Carataya, Mahunodhunod, Putian and San Antonio in Cuartero, Capiz.

“Based on the current status of SBDP projects, we are expecting that majority of them will be completed by the first quarter of 2022 with some spill-over projects to be completed by the second quarter,” Año said.

He explained that some of the projects are still under procurement on the LGU level because it takes about 1-2 months for the preparation of pre-procurement documents like Detailed Engineering Design (DED) from the implementing local government units (LGUs), Certificate of Pre-condition (CP) or Certificate of Non-Coverage (CNC) from the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP), and Notice of Authority to Debit Account Issued (NADAI) from the Bureau of Treasury (BTr).

The DILG Chief maintained that completing these documentary requirements were even more challenging with the stringent COVID-19 restrictions as another 4 to 5 months are needed to complete the procurement process in compliance with the Republic Act (RA) 9184.

He added that actual implementation of the SBDP projects on the ground takes about 1 to 4 months to complete depending on the nature of the project with non-infra projects usually completed faster than infra projects like roads and buildings.

Nat’l ID sufficient proof of identity in opening bank accounts – BSP

Robie de Guzman   •   November 9, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Tuesday reminded financial institutions that the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) or national ID is considered sufficient proof of identity to open a bank account.

In a statement, the BSP said the BSP-Supervised Financial Institutions (BSFI) should accept the national ID card, in both physical and mobile formats, as sufficient proof of identity without the need for another ID.

The central bank’s call is in support of the Memorandum No. M-2021-057 issued by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), which reminds all government and private entities to accept the PhilID card as sufficient proof of identity, subject to proper authentication. This is in line with Republic Act No. 11055 or the PhilSys Act.

“PhilSys will help more Filipinos, especially the marginalized and low-income, to begin saving money in banks and other BSFIs,” said BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno.

Diokno added that the national ID system will support the wide scale opening of transaction accounts, particularly the Basic Deposit Account, which is designed to meet the needs of the unbanked.

The PhilSys will offer online and offline methods for identity authentication through the PhilID physical security features, QR code digital verification, biometric verification, and SMS one-time password (OTP).

These features will facilitate stronger and more secure methods of identity verification than traditional methods such as manual matching of handwritten signature against specimen.

The BSP likewise directed BSFIs to include the PhilID in their list of valid IDs.

“As a foundational digital ID system, the BSP considers the PhilSys as a gamechanger for financial inclusion, a state wherein there is effective access to a wide range of financial services for all,” it said.

“Aside from contributing to the massive opening of transaction accounts, PhilSys is expected to transform how services are delivered and accessed in the Philippines, accelerating the country’s transition to a digital economy,” it added.

As of October 21, 2021, the number of transaction accounts opened due to the co-location of PSA registration sites and Land Bank account opening facilities totaled 5,922,304 accounts, the BSP said.

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