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Filipinos urged to secure biometric ID cards for easier public transactions

digital identity biometric registration

Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte has called on his compatriots to register with the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) and procure their biometrics cards in order to have easier and faster access to government and private sector services.

According to the Philippine News Agency (PNA), the President made the appeal recently as he spoke in a virtual event about the importance of the biometric national ID card, dubbed PhilID.

“As we pursue this long-overdue project, I ask every Filipino to give PhilSys a chance so that we may maximize the advantages of a universal and secure database that will make transactions more efficient and our lives more convenient,” PNA quoted President Duterte as appealing in his address.

The President, who is said to have collected his own ID card early this month, also assured citizens of the safety and security of the cards, which contain face, fingerprint and iris biometric data. He said all personal information to be held by the PhilSys database will be adequately protected, PNA mentioned.

“Let me assure everyone, as well as apart from its primary purpose of providing a resilient digital identification system for all Filipinos, PhilSys will also uphold the privacy of all personal information,” the President stated.

He added that as citizens continue with the registration process, they should make sure they respect existing preventive guidelines against the coronavirus pandemic.

The Filipino ID scheme is a project that seeks to establish a unique source of identification for all. It was kick-started in 2018 when a parliamentary Act was signed into law.

As at February 26, over 20 million citizens were said to have completed the first phase of registration, PNA noted. The details being collected in the registration process include age, gender, date and place of birth, address, mobile number, and email address.  Marital status, blood type and residency status are said to be optional details.

Thirty-two of the country’s provinces are done with the first phase of the project which prioritized house-to-house collection of demographic information for poor homes.

Step 2, which some provinces have already engaged, entails the capturing of biometric details of the registrants. Authorities said in December that it was to begin early January 2021.

The third and final step of the process will have to do with issuing the PhilSys numbers and ID cards.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) says they hope to register at least 50 million Filipinos for the scheme by the end of the year, and at least 100 million by mid-2022. The cards will replace all existing ID documents, except the passport, driver’s license and the UMID card, per PNA.

Meanwhile, as biometric registration is ongoing, PSA authorities have continued to give assurances about the safety and resilience of the ID system.

Rosalinda Bautista, deputy Statistician Assistant Secretary at the PSA said recently that the cards are designed in a way that they cannot be falsified, and that each individual will be issued a unique serial number that can neither be changed nor transferred even after death, reports Inquirer.net.

Bautista noted that authentication will be performed with a combination of biometric information and the individual’s PhilSys number to secure the use of the cards.

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