Senator Christopher “Bong” Go issued a reminder on August 25, 2020, to the Philippine Statistics Authority to ensure the prompt and successful implementation of the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) which will be a key component to averting fraudulent transactions and misrepresentations as well as improving the efficiency, transparency, and responsiveness in the delivery of essential government services.
“The national ID system is long overdue. The ongoing pandemic exposed many gaps in the delivery of various services. One example is the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) which initially encountered distribution challenges. The discrepancy in some data would have been minimized if we had the national ID system fully functional,” said Go.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law Republic Act No. 11055 in August 2018 which directs the creation of the PhilSys Registry, an integrated and efficient identification system that will consolidate existing government-initiated identification systems.
Based on the law, every citizen and resident alien will be given a unique and permanent identification number which shall serve as the standard number for the individual across all government agencies, eliminating the need to present other forms of identification.
In April, President Duterte directed the National Economic and Development Authority Acting Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua to hasten the implementation of PhilSys after delays in implementation which could have helped in the delivery of SAP benefits to indigent families. The PSA, an attached agency of NEDA and the implementing agency of the law, is expecting to register an estimated five million low-income Filipinos by December.
Go, for his part, believes the growing sophistication of emerging technologies and new trends in processing data can provide solutions to improve public service delivery, enhance good governance, and reduce corruption and red tape.
“The national ID system is an integral component if we are to fully realize the benefits of e-governance—faster, more efficient, more cost-effective, and more responsive to the needs of our people,” said Go.
“Moreover, as we prepare for the ‘new normal’, the transition to e-governance becomes crucial, particularly the digitalizing of government processes. E-governance will reduce red tape, eliminate corruption, enhance transparency, provide safe and convenient delivery of services to the people, and encourage citizen feedback and participation in governance,” he added.
Last July, Go filed Senate Bill No. 1738, otherwise known as the E-Governance Act of 2020, to further address inefficiencies plaguing the bureaucracy and reduce face to face transactions among others.
The bill mandates the creation of the Integrated Government Network which will act as the primary means for the sharing and communication of resources, information, and data through digital and electronic platforms across all of the government. The IGN will serve as the government’s primary and focal information management tool and communications network.
The proposed measure will likewise create digital portals for the delivery of public services, an information database, and an internal records management information system.
If passed into law, the measure will allow the public to better access and easily request government information, documents and forms via the internet anywhere and anytime through their ICT devices or gadgets. Most importantly, Go said that through E-governance, citizens can monitor the delivery of public services from start to end while any delay in procedures will be traceable to the exact office and individuals responsible.
“Because of COVID-19, government needs to evolve and enhance transactions that normally require face-to-face interaction. It is important for the government to initiate the transition,” said Go.
“We should adopt more efficient, responsive and modern ways of transacting with our citizens. This will effectively make the government more in tune with the changing times.”
In the recent State of the Nation Address, President Rodrigo Duterte emphasized the need to prioritize measures in line with the transition to E-Governance.
“The national government shall lead the way in our transition to online systems. I reiterate my call for all government instrumentalities to implement systems that shall make physical queuing a thing of the past. Panahon na para mawala na ang pila para mapagsilbihan ang gobyerno nang walang kahirapan para sa tao,” the President said in his fifth SONA.
“The DILG, DBM, and the ARTA, along with all agencies and instrumentalities of government, are hereby directed to make possible services available online. We need to adjust to and adopt a paper-less type business and work performance. We need e-governance [to provide] our people with the services they need [from] the comfort of their homes or workplaces. It will enable our bureaucracy to better transition into in the ‘new normal’ and cut or minimize red tape,” the President also said.