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BSP expects national ID legislation to pass in May

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Philippine Central Bank Deputy Governor Nestor A. Espenilla Jr.

THE Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) expects legislation covering the national identification (ID) system to be enacted next month.

Speaking at the national convention of the Chamber of Thrift Banks in Makati, BSP Governor Nestor A. Espenilla, Jr. said the monetary authority expects bills calling for a national ID to be passed into law next month.

“Our great expectation is that we will have finally a proper national ID law as early as next month,” Mr. Espenilla said today, April 10, adding that the Senate and House versions have been certified as urgent.

The Senate and House versions of the bill establishing the national ID system have been approved on third and final reading. Mr. Espenilla said he expects the bicameral conference committee to convene next month to consolidate the two versions.

The national ID system will require Filipinos and foreign residents in the Philippines to have a single ID, making transactions with the government and private firms easier.

Implementing the national ID system, according to Mr. Espenilla, does not necessarily entail creating physical identification cards.

“It does not mean we have to create a physical ID… This is basically an identification system. It is going to be platform-based and digitally enabled,” he said.

“But the real authenticity of the information is the biometrics that are verifiable digitally. So you go to a terminal… Under a proposal, we will assign a randomly generated ID number which we will keep for life.”

The central banker added that the national ID system will address many issues, such as anti-money laundering compliance and new-customer acquisition, among others.

“We are ready to recognize the national ID to replace all other IDs that we require for our customer onboarding purposes. It will address many of the points in money laundering compliance… And it will also facilitate the acquisition of customers from a distance.”

Mr. Espenilla also noted that the measure “directly supports [BSP’s] aspiration to create a more digital economy.”

The passage of the national ID system is also expected to foster financial inclusion, as unbanked Filipinos will be able to enter the formal financial system through the use of the national ID.

“We have great expectations for this, and I can assure you we are ready to move forward quickly with the foundational biometric ID system,” Mr. Espenilla said, adding that he hopes the measure will not get any political derails.

“We really need it. Probably we’re the only [country in Southeast Asia] that doesn’t have one, so it’s time to move forward.” — Karl Angelo N. Vidal