Two senators called on the executive department to roll out the national ID system to help solve the discrepancies in the list of beneficiaries for financial aid amid the continuing lockdown due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he personally suggested to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez to use the national ID system to address the 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 said in a message to reporters.

“I suggested the full-blown execution of the national ID system to solve the problem of Social Amelioration distribution,” he added.

According to Sotto said Dominguez III agreed with his suggestion “100 (percent).”

The discrepancies in the DSWD and LGU databases are the main reason for the delay in the release of emergency cash aid ranging from P5,000 to P8,000 per month for two months to 18 million low-income families severely affected by the lockdown.

Sotto said government should fast track implementation of the ID system to help bring current aid efforts in order.

The senate president also lamented the slow implementation of the national ID system which had been signed by President Rodrigo Duterte into law in 2018

“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, said he “couldn’t agree more” to Sotto’s call to push for the immediate implementation of the national ID system saying it will benefit the country not just during the COVID-19 crisis.

“We passed it two years ago. They should fast track the implementation, not only because of the COVID-19 but for a lot of many good reasons that will benefit the country,” Lacson said.

Earlier, local officials complained about the DSWD’s “quota system” for every town and city for the P200-billion Social Amelioration Program, which is provided under Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

Lacson earlier said there is a huge discrepancy between the executive department’s projection-based list of beneficiaries to the social amelioration program to the list from LGUs.

Sotto added funds for the implementation of the national ID system is “no concern” since there are still available funds in the 2020 national budget.

“Budget is no concern or problem at all. The President knows that,” Sotto said.

“Life is most important, money can be restored later,” he added.

Duterte signed the national ID law in 2018 that mandates the national government create a single official identification card for all citizens and foreign residents, aimed to promote ease of doing business, strengthen financial inclusion and curtail bureaucratic red tape,.

The national ID system has undergone the “testing” stagein the last quarter of 2019.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said the registration for the national ID system will start on July 2020 committing to complete the registration of the entire “population by mid-2022.”  (Rommel F. Lopez)