MANILA - The executive branch should roll out the national ID system to solve discrepancies in the list of beneficiaries for cash aid amid the continuing lockdown because of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Tuesday.
Sotto said he gave the suggestion to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez as the release of cash aid for some 18 million low-income families continues to be hampered due to discrepancies in the databases of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and local government units (LGUs).
"I suggested the full blown execution of the national ID system to solve the problem of social amelioration distribution," Sotto told reporters in a text message.
"The national ID system will solve any discrepancies between LGUs n DSWD database," he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed the national ID law in 2018, mandating the government to create a single official identification card for all citizens and foreign residents, which is seen to curtail bureaucratic red tape, promote ease of doing business, and strengthen financial inclusion.
The government began "testing" the national ID system in the last quarter of 2019, with the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) committing to "complete the enrollment of the population by mid-2022."
Sotto said government should fast track implementation of the ID system to help bring current aid efforts in order.
"The national ID system has been there since over a year ago. Fast break nila (executive) otherwise hanggang next month magulo pa rin. Ano? Ganyan na Lang? (What? We let that be?) We must find solutions," he said.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who sponsored the bill in 2018, backed Sotto's call for the fast implementation of the national ID system, saying the policy will benefit the country not just during the coronavirus crisis.
Sotto said funds for the implementation of the national ID system should not be a problem since government has yet to spend most of the 2020 budget.
The PSA earlier said that registration for the national ID system will be open to the public on July 2020.
"Budget is no concern or problem at all. The President knows that," the Senate President said.
"Life is most important, money can be restored later," he said.
Duterte earlier announced a P200-billion social amelioration program to help daily wage earners and poor families who have lost income because of lockdowns enforced to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.