Former Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, who has in-charge of the Philippine Identification System ID (PhilSys), was kicked out of his position last week by President Duterte due to the delays in the roll-out of the said national ID system that was enacted into law on August 19, 2018. President Duterte’s key initiative was quite the same program former presidents since Fidel Ramos had tried to implement but came out unsuccessful or discontinued.

The idea of creating a national ID system in the Philippines may sound simple, but not without diligence and strenuous undertaking of development. Under the Republic Act 11055 law, the implementing agency is assigned to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), which is under the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) headed by Pernia. The law also ordained the creation of the hilSys Policy and Coordination Council — a body of 14 agencies — to make sure the ID system was implemented smoothly, in which Pernia was also assigned as chairman of the council.

“It was clearly Pernia’s ‘tasking,’” a Palace official said. “But sadly, he obviously didn’t have any management experience at all to undertake a huge task.”

PhilSys is meant to be the future official national identity card for Filipino citizens worldwide and foreign permanent residents in the Philippines, in which it serves as a stand-alone valid proof of identification for all citizens and resident aliens without the hassle of needing to acquire more than one kinds of identification.

The national ID became relevant as being the key for deploying Social Amelioration Programs to poor families or lower class individuals among the sufferers amidst this pandemic.

“The head of a poor family would have just gone to the barangay (village) head or DSWD official and showed his ID, and he would have been given the goods or the money,” Duterte explained. “But we have no ID system until now. So, we have had delays in distributing government help.”

Senate President Vicente Sotto 3rd and Sen. Panfilo Lacson had also recently raised their concerns over the P25-billion national ID system’s delay and had filed Senate Resolution 342 last week asking for a full-blown investigation for its hold-up.

“Pinaghirapan naming ipasa ‘yan at marami ayaw, ang dami pang bumatikos sa amin, e bakit hanggang ngayon wala pa rin,” Sotto said in a television interview.

“When the orchestra is not well orchestrated, then you have a little problem. Since I seem to be a dissonant voice among others, I thought I should just quit,” Pernia said as his reason for his ‘voluntary resignation’.

It was just as well, when Pernia being assigned as NEDA was one of the worst decisions done by President Duterte. Following his resignation, ​Finance Undersecretary Karl Kendrick Chua has been named the acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary.

“These are already very big programs in a very uncertain time so I would focus on that first and once we have crafted or understand the new normal, then we can look at other priorities and programs,” Chua said. “We think that the 2022 target is still feasible but we are thinking of ways so that we front load many of the registration to this year as much as possible.”

This goes to show another past event of incompetence in the progress achieved by the current administration, reflecting disappointment, one after the other, for the government overall in managing the present pandemic affecting the country.


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