A couple of months ago, my wife messaged me that there was this representative from Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) going house-to-house supposedly for the national ID, but she refused to provide our details because the person was rude and couldn’t answer her questions on the data collection process and then just walked out. I would’ve done the same if I was home, even if it seems we’re now getting used to scanning QR codes, filling up forms or signing up online for contact tracing, medical waiver, and vaccine profiling, we still need to be careful and should be concerned about our data protection and privacy.
But turned out it was indeed a legitimate registration activity recently conducted by PSA in compliance with Republic Act No. 11055, or the Philippine Identification System Act, signed into law on August 6, 2018. PSA personnel went house-to-house amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s the first step of the registration process after which an Application Reference Number (ARN) and/or QR code will be issued as a requirement for the next step. Around 27 million people have reportedly completed this demographic data collection activity. Mind you this was during the time the NCR was placed under ECQ/MECQ. Probably the reason why the online portal was perhaps rushed on its pilot run.
By late April, the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) online registration went live, but the website was plagued with technical difficulties. I was able to register by May, but was notified there were no registration sites available to me for booking.
You know how crazy and frustrating it is to get a valid ID here in the Philippines, requiring an ID to get an ID. And without a valid ID or two, you won’t be able to open a bank account or avail certain services. With the national ID becoming a valid proof of identity, it aims to simplify public and private transactions and promote seamless social service delivery and strengthen financial inclusion for both public and private services. I would love for this to be entirely true versus me and my wife’s suspicion that this is being rushed and pushed in time for next year’s major elections, but can we be blamed?
Anyway, when we learned that there’s a month-long registration in our barangay by purok, we lined up when we got the chance. The first week of June was met with long queues by 6am and I would see the basketball court still half full when I get home from work by 7pm. Those with QR codes are being prioritized in the morning while walk-ins are accommodated in the afternoon. Senior citizens are of course prioritized throughout the day. As I have work on weekdays, me and my family got registered on separate dates. The registration site is open from Monday to Saturday.
You guessed it right, you still need proof of identity to get this ID haha. The acceptable supporting documents are listed here. So there were long queues in our barangay hall as well, with people requesting barangay clearance or certificate as a secondary supporting document, to pair with a Philippine passport, Unified Multi-purpose Identification Card or UMID, driver’s license, or PSA-issued birth certificate as main document.
Was told to come in a polo shirt with collar though I didn’t know that shorts are not allowed, you know how hot it can get in the afternoon even as the rainy season starts in June. I thought this rule on attire was anti-poor, what if you don’t have a polo shirt or a pair of below-the-knee pants? Anyway, good thing our house is near the basketball court where the PSA registration site is, I changed into long pants quickly.
The initial screening was quick, especially if you have supporting documents ready, you’ll be issued a number and then be seated on a chair at the back or end of the line and wait for your number to be called. This is where the long wait starts. For me it took at least two hours.
Once your number is called, a PSA representative will ask for your supporting documents and encode your details. By the way, you need not bring a pen. There’s a screen display where you’ll see your details being encoded. A biometrics system will capture all your finger prints as well as your eye/iris scan. You will then be asked to verify that your details are correct and then that’s it. A printed transaction slip will be handed out to you which you’ll need to present once your PhilSys Number (PSN) and national ID are issued and delivered.
According to PSA, there are now more than 1,500 registration centers spread nationwide, including PSA offices and malls. Visit https://www.philsys.gov.ph/ or follow its official Facebook page for more information and updates.
If there’s a registration site set up near you, be sure to pay a visit and register as soon as you can. The only way for us to benefit from this foundational digital ID system is if we support it. Here’s hoping the PhilSys will truly transform how services are availed and delivered in the Philippines.
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