NEDA eyes 5 million registrants in national ID system this year

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 21) - The government is working to fast track the implementation of the country's national identification system amid the battle against COVID-19.

Newly-appointed Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua on Tuesday said they expect to register five million Filipinos under the national ID system this year.

"One thing we are thinking about is if we can target so that each household gets to be registered," Chua said in a media briefing on Tuesday.

"So we will still reach five million registrations but we are not merely covering five million people, we are covering five million households and that is one way to ensure that we address some of the issues in the social amelioration program," he added.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said that the execution of the national ID system could have helped speed up the government's aid distribution in light of the continuing lockdown brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ: Duterte: National ID system could have hastened COVID-19 aid rollout

Chua said the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), which he now heads, and the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) have come up with a plan to fast track its implementation, despite limited mobility due to the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine.

"We agreed to use the next two months for the remaining procurement and preparation so that by June or July when ECQ is relaxed or modified, we will be able to begin again registration of households so that is the plan," Chua said.

"We have received support from DBM (Department of Budget and Management) to fund part of the work that is needed to move this project forward faster," he added.

Chua said the ID system and recovery plan are two important components in ensuring sound macroeconomic policies.

"The national ID is one thing that we have to also accelerate because it is really a way we can achieve more financial inclusion and target the subsidies that will benefit the intended beneficiaries," Chua said.

"These are already very big programs in a very uncertain time so I would focus on that first and once we have crafted or understand the new normal, then we can look at other priorities and programs," he added.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Philippine Identification System Act into law in August 2018, which aims to create a single official ID card for all citizens that integrates and interconnects various government-issued IDs.

However, some government officials noted that 'no significant headway' on the ID system has been made despite the approval of its implementing rules and regulations 60 days after it was enacted.

Two senators have called for an investigation on the delay in implementing the law.

READ: Senators seek probe on delay of national ID system

Despite this, Chua remains confident that they can reach their goal of registering majority of Filipinos by 2022.

“We think that the 2022 target is still feasible but we are thinking of ways so that we front load many of the registration to this year as much as possible," Chua said.

Former NEDA chief Ernesto Pernia estimated that 107 million Filipinos, including those working overseas and foreigners who are residents in the Philippines, will be covered by the national ID system by the end of the Duterte administration.