EFFORTS to prioritize low-income groups were cited as the cause of delay in the distribution of more National IDs, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

In a message to BusinessMirror, National Statistician Claire Dennis S. Mapa said, however, the PSA still aims to produce 14.9 million National IDs by the end of 2021.

As of September 17, 2021, a total of 5.074 million PhilID cards have been produced. A total of 1.9 million PhilID cards were delivered to successful registrants as of 20 September 2021.

“There is a slow start in the delivery of PhilID cards by the Philippine Postal Corporation because the PSA prioritized the registration of low-income individuals who are mostly residing in far-flung/remote areas,” Mapa said.

During the plenary budget hearing of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), whose attached agencies include the PSA, legislators questioned the delay in the delivery of National IDs.

The National IDs are being printed by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) through a memorandum of agreement with the PSA.

Currently, PSA said, the BSP has a printing capacity of 80,000 to 100,000 IDs per day. Under the agreement, BSP committed to print  a total of 116 million PhilID cards from 2020 to 2023.

“The PSA is also targeting to launch the mobile PhilID so registrants with access to smartphones or desktop/laptop computers could still receive the benefits of being registered to the Philippine Identification System, even if there is delay in the receipt of the actual PhilID card,” Mapa also said.

This year, the PSA aims to register at least 50 million in the National ID. This required the agency to tap an additional budget of P2.5 billion from the government’s unprogrammed funds.

The PSA added that it has a pending P3.52 billion budget request for the registration of additional 20 million more registrants in 2021.

For 2021, the PSA has a P4.2-billion approved budget from the National Expenditure Program (NEP), and P3.1 billion from 2020 Continuing Appropriation.

“The initially approved budget allocations under 2021 NEP and 2020 continuing were not enough to cover the expenses [for] activities [in the National ID registration],” Mapa said.

These activities, Mapa said, are the three steps in National ID registration. Step 1 involves the collection of demographic data and appointment setting for next registration step.

Step 2 involves the capture of biometrics at registration centers while Step 3 refers to the issuance of PhilSys Number and the PhilID card to successful registrants.

In order to undertake Step 1, the PSA did assisted or house-to-house registration between January 18 and May 31,  2021 in all provinces to avoid overcrowding at registration centers, Mapa said.

The PSA, he said, had to start with a small-scale, gradual implementation of the PhilSys due to quarantine restrictions imposed in some cities/municipalities.

The PSA also purchased Covid-19 response supplies in order to comply with the health and safety protocols implemented by various local government units.

“In order to catch up for the missed registration targets due to delay in the full operation of PhilSys in all provinces, the PSA needed to implement the following: extend registration hours and instruct hired registration personnel to render overtime service, hire and train additional staff for the ramp-up of registration operation, redistribute registration kits due to suspension in some cities/municipalities, etc.,” Mapa explained.

Earlier, the PSA said local quarantine restrictions have proven to be among the major challenges in implementing the National ID.

PSA Deputy National Statistician of the PhilSys Registry Office Rosalinda P. Bautista said the PSA “lost close to 4,000 foregone registrations” due to local mobility restrictions.

However, Bautista said, the PSA continues its effort to register more Filipinos in the National ID. As of September 10, over 42 million have completed Step 1 for demographic data capture; 30 million, Step 2 for biometric data capture; and over 1.7 million have received their IDs.

The PhilSys registration has also provided poor and unbanked Filipinos the opportunity to open a bank account when they complete their Step 2 registration through LandBank.

As of September 10, Bautista said, over 5 million Filipinos have already opened new LandBank accounts during their National ID Step 2 registration.

By the end of the year, Bautista said the government aims to register 70 million Filipinos under Step 1 and 50 million under Step 2.

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