Senate probe sought on delay in nat’l ID system roll out
Robie de Guzman • May 4, 2020 • 237
MANILA, Philippines – Three senators on Monday said they are seeking to investigate the status of the implementation of the Republic Act 11055 or the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) following delays in the distribution of food and financial aids amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.
In a press statement, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, and Senators Panfilo Lacson and Ramon “Bong” Reville Jr. said they have filed separate resolutions to probe complaints on the distribution of assistance to families affected by the community quarantines caused by COVID-19 due to the delayed full implementation of the National ID program.
“Amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, several elective officials are calling for a ‘full-blown’ and immediate implementation of the National ID System as this would not only aid in the efficient distribution of the social amelioration program (SAP) currently being implemented by different government agencies but would also help our law enforcement agencies in fighting crimes and facilitate key government services and transactions, among others,” said Sotto and Lacson in their Senate Resolution No. 352.
“Reportedly, implementation of the said social amelioration program has been delayed because of discrepancies in the list of beneficiaries of the national government and the local government units,” Revilla said in his Senate Resolution No. 355.
The law on the national ID system was signed on August 6, 2018 while its implementing rules and regulations were signed and approved 60 days later. The measure seeks to establish a single national identification system for all citizens and resident aliens of the country.
It also aims to “promote seamless delivery of service, to improve the efficiency, transparency, and targeted delivery of public and social services, to enhance administrative governance, to reduce corruption and curtail bureaucratic red tape, to avert fraudulent transactions and misrepresentations, to strengthen financial inclusion, and to promote ease of doing business.”
In their resolution, Sotto and Lacson noted that even before the measure was approved, Congress has already allocated P2 billion for the “National ID System” under the 2018 budget of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). The entire budget for the program amounts to P25 billion.
The PSA is the lead implementing agency of the program.
“From 2018 to 2020 General Appropriations Act, a budget of P2 billion has been allotted for the National ID System, totaling to only P6.096 billion budget allocation for three (3) years,” the resolution stated.
However, since its enactment into law, Sotto and Lacson noted that there’s no significant headway on its implementation.
The PSA started the first pilot testing of the program only on the last quarter of 2019, covering a “small number of individuals” from Metro Manila, the senators said.
They added that the executive branch should roll out the National ID System to solve discrepancies in the list of beneficiaries for cash aid, noting that it was President Rodrigo Duterte who has recently acknowledged that the National ID System would have avoided the unnecessary delay in the delivery of emergency subsidy program.
“The national ID system will solve any discrepancies between local government units and database from the Department of Social Welfare and Development,” Sotto said.
Lacson, who sponsored the measure in the Senate, added there is no other time than now when it is most needed.
He also urged the National Economic and Development Authority to expedite the program’s implementation as earlier directed by the president.
“I hope the National Economic and Development Authority can fast-track the implementation of the National ID system, as directed by the President. NEDA should have ample help from the Philippine Statistics Authority as the frontline agency, and the Department of ICT which plays a major role,” he said.
“The first question is, is the system ready to accept registrants? If so, they should give priority to the marginalized sector, and those targeted for financial assistance because of the COVID-19 crisis,” he added.
The PSA said the mass registration for the National ID System has been moved from July to October this year in light of the public health emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic.
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines Statistics Authority (PSA) is fast-tracking the full implementation of the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) or the national ID under Republic Act No. 11055.
This is to improve future targeting and distribution of financial assistance to poor and low-income households, the agency said.
Part of President Rodrigo Duterte’s marching orders to PSA is the immediate activation the national ID system.
It is also part of the President’s latest report to the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee.
The PSA targets to register around 5 million low-income households by December 2020.
Meanwhile, the agency plans to kick-start the registration process by October 2020 in all 46 registration centers and 1,170 mobile registration centers nationwide.
It is also coordinating with the Landbank of the Philippines to be able to utilize its 126 branches as additional registration centers for PhilSys.
The President signed the PhilSys Act in August 2018. MNP (with information from Rosalie Coz)
MANILA, Philippines – The Senate on Monday, May 18 approved on third and final reading a bill that seeks to impose longer prison sentences and larger fines for individuals, especially public officials, who will commit perjury.
Voting 20-0, senators passed the Senate Bill No. 1354, which proposes to amend Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code and increase the current penalty on perjury from a range of the minimum period to medium period, or from six years and one day to 10 years of imprisonment.
Sen. Richard Gordon, chair of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights and sponsor of the bill, said the proposed higher penalties were meant to deter people from committing perjury as they testify under oath in proceedings, such as legislative hearings, and to create a culture of truth-telling in government.
“In other words, you lie, you pay… Do not trifle with the truth,” he said in a statement.
Perjury, he explained, is committed by a person when he “knowingly makes untruthful statements and not being included in the provisions of the crimes of false testimony under judicial proceedings, shall testify under oath, or make an affidavit, upon any material matter before a competent person authorized to administer an oath in cases in which the law so requires.”
Under the existing law, persons guilty of perjury are only sentenced from four months and one day to two years and four months of imprisonment.
For public offcials or employees who would commit perjury, the penalty of imprisonment will be imposed in its maximum period, along with a fine of P1 million, as well as perpetual disqualification from holding any appointive or elective position in government, Gordon said.
Gordon believes that the bill would help address the issue of low conviction rates for people charged with perjury.
“As we uncovered during our committee hearing, a factor for the low cases is the low penalty imposed on the crime of perjury. The current penalty for perjury is subject to probation and the bail imposed is also low, roughly Php6,000 only. Given the high costs involved in prosecuting a crime, there is no motivation to prosecute the crime of perjury,” he said.
The bill was co-authored by Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, and Senators Panfilo Lacson and Leila de Lima.
Its counterpart bill at the House of Representatives remains pending at the committee level.
MANILA, Philippines – The Senate on Friday said it will give honors to the late Senator Tessie Aquino-Oreta, who passed away on May 14.
Aquino-Oreta was a member of the Senate during the 11th and 12th Congress.
Senate Majority Juan Miguel Zubiri said a resolution will be passed on Monday, May 18 paying tribute to the former senator.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III earlier expressed his sadness over the passing of Aquino-Oreta, whom he worked with at the Senate and considers as his friend.
“My family and I are so saddened by her demise. She was very close to me and Sec Greg,” Sotto said, referring to former senator and now Information and Communications Technology Secretary Gregorio Honasan.
Sotto also said that his wife, Helen, was also “devastated” by Aquino-Oreta’s demise.
“Helen, being a relative of theirs is devastated by her passing away. She has not stopped crying since we were told the news last night,” he said.
Other senators have also expressed condolences to the family of the former lawmaker.
Malacañang also expressed sympathy over the demise of Aquino-Oreta.
“Our sincerest condolences to the family, relatives, friends and colleagues of former Senator Maria Teresa “Tessie” Aquino-Oreta who passed away yesterday, May 14 at the age of 75,” Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.
“Senator Oreta had a distinguished career in public service. She served the country as a senator during the 11th and 12th Congress and as Representative of 8th, 9th, and 10th Congress,” he added.
Aquino-Oreta was the youngest sister of slain Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. and the aunt of former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.
Her son, Malabon City Mayor Antolin “Lenlen” Oreta, announced her passing on Friday but did not disclose the cause. –RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)
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