MANILA – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Monday thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for signing the Philippine Identification System Act, saying that it was only under the present administration that the national ID system - whose legislative journey spanned four presidencies - saw the light of day.

Republic Act 11055 was earlier signed by President Duterte in a ceremony in Malacañang.

With the signing of the measure into law, Lacson said Filipinos will now have an easier time transacting with the government and with private entities.

"At long last, we now have a law that breaks the formidable barriers between government and the downtrodden and the poor due to the lack of identification," he said.

Lacson said the measure aims to institute a single official identification for all citizens and foreign residents in the country.

Currently, he noted there are 33 different forms of "functional" identification cards issued by various government agencies - a situation that may lead to "duplication of efforts, wastage of resources, and uncoordinated identity approaches."

Lacson, who headed the Philippine National Police from 1999 to 2001, said the national ID system could also help deter criminality and terrorism by facilitating the processes of apprehension and prosecution.

Under the bill, a foundational ID system, dubbed PhilSys, will be in place. It will have three components: the PhilSys Number (PSN), PhilID and PhilSys Registry.

PSN is a randomly generated, unique and permanent identification number for each individual, to be incorporated in all identification systems of government agencies. It will remain with the person even after death.

PhilID is a non-transferable card with the PSN and basic information.

The Philippine Statistics Authority is mandated to act as the PhilSys Registry.

Under the national ID law, the PSA will collate the full name, sex, birthdate, address, citizenship and blood type of Filipino citizens and encode them in a centralized database.

The law ensures that the individual's right to privacy is protected.

As provided under RA 11055, information may only be released when the registered person has given his or her consent, specific to the purpose prior to the processing; when the compelling interest of public health or safety so requires, provided the risk of significant harm to the public is established and the owner of the information is notified within 72 hours of the fact of such disclosure; upon order of any competent court; and when a registered person requests from the PSA access to his or her registered information and record history, subject to the guidelines and regulations to be issued by the PSA.

Meanwhile, Senator Sonny Angara also expressed his appreciation to President Duterte.

“I laud President Duterte for signing the law creating the national ID system in order to cut down the bureaucratic red tape that has been hampering the efficient and effective delivery of government services,” he said.

Angara, who is also one of the authors of the measure, said the national ID system will empower many Filipinos to access the formal financial system and open bank accounts.

“With the enactment of the national ID into law, the Philippines now joins many developed countries in the world that have adopted such a system for a smoother and streamlined government services and operations,” Angara said. (PNA)