SWS: Filipinos split in trusting gov't will not use ID data vs. critics

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  • 3 out of 5 Filipinos want national ID
  • 61 percent of Filipinos trust gov't with private data
  • PSA vows to protect citizen data
  • Congressman: ID can eventually serve as debit card for gov't benefits
  • PSA: Don't throw out SSS, PhilHealth IDs yet

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 8) — Filipinos are split on whether they trust the government will use national identification (ID) data against critics, according to a non-commissioned survey.

According to a Social Weather Stations (SWS) poll, while three in five — or 73 percent — of Filipinos favored a national ID, only 49 percent trusted the state would not use this information against those opposing the government.

Only 18 percent were against a national ID, while the remaining nine percent said they did not know enough to give an opinion.

About 61 percent said they trusted the government to protect private information on the ID.

The SWS classified support for the policy as "extremely strong," with a net approval score of +55. The survey was conducted from June 27 to 30 this year.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the National ID System into law on Monday. It is expected to streamline necessary identification for different government transactions — from health insurance to housing loans — into one card.

PSA vows to protect data

However, critics fear that a national database would pose serious data and privacy risks, and government officials could use the information for private interests.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), which is expected to implement the law and oversee registration, vowed it would protect citizen data.

"I would like to assure everyone that PSA as implementing agency is afraid of what the law says," PSA National Statistician Lisa Grace Bersales said in a media briefing on Wednesday.

Under the law, data can only be collected if it is given with consent of the citizen involved or through a court order, if public health or safety requires it. Any unauthorized access, collection, or disclosure of data has a penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment and fine of up to ₱5 million.

The malicious disclosure of data by government officials or employees is punishable by 10 to 15 years of imprisonment and a fine ranging from ₱5 million to ₱10 million. There is also a penalty of three to six years of imprisonment and a ₱1 million to ₱3 million fine if data is accessed by unauthorized persons due to negligence.

Bersales said violators are liable not only under the PhilSys Act, but also under the Data Privacy Act. She said the PSA would be monitored by the Department of Information and Technology and National Privacy Commission.

"We have to make sure the IT system is the most advanced against any illegal entry," she stressed.

The procurement process for the system is expected to begin in October.

The Armed Forces and Defense Department also welcomed the passage of the law on Tuesday, saying it would help keep criminals and terrorists from taking on different identities and assist in the distribution of aid to victims of disaster.

Future debit card?

Davao City Representative Karlo Nograles, who sponsored the law, said the card could even be "levelled up" once the PhilSys is in place.

This means citizens could eventually use the ID as a debit card to avail of government financial assistance programs.

"All of these benefits, social subsidies we're giving to different constituents can be integrated, na yung pagbibigay natin ng [so the distribution of] subsidies will be through a debit system," said Nograles.


Bersales advised citizens to keep IDs for other systems for the next three to five years while the PhilSys stabilizes. These include IDs for the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), Social Security System (SSS), Home Development Mutual Fund or Pag-IBIG, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), and the voter ID.

The PSA envisions that along with the national ID, the only other necessary government identifications will include a passport, a Professional Regulation Commission license, and a driver's license.

Implementing rules and regulations for the law are expected to be released in October. It is hoping to register a million Filipinos in pilot areas by the end of the year.