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A lawmaker at the House of Representatives lauded the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) for stepping in to shoulder the responsibility of producing 116 million blank cards under the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys).

Laguna Rep. Sol Aragones, the author of the PhilSys Act, said this development would weed out possible corruption and ensure that the identification (ID) cards are rolled out sooner.

On Monday, the BSP signed a memorandum of agreement with the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) for the production of 116 million blank cards worth PHP3.4 billion.

BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno said the government-to-government agreement is better than tapping the private sector to prevent issues that usually arise when losing bidders question the decision of the bids and account committee.

"Makakatulong ito para makaiwas sa corruption at mapabilis ang implementasyon ng batas (This would help in curbing corruption and speed up the implementation of the law). So this is great news so that we can implement the PhilSys law as soon as possible,” Aragones said.

Aragones said the ID cards are crucial in providing Filipinos with access to government and financial services, noting that the PhilSys simplifies the processes for services offered both by the government and private companies as only one ID would be required instead of the usual two.

The lawmaker cited the World Bank’s Identification for Development initiative reports showing that over 16.3 million Filipinos do not have proof of identity, which hinders them from availing of government and financial services.

“Napakaganda pong batas nito na makakatulong lalo na sa mga magsasaka’t mangingisda natin para makalapit sila sa pamahalaan at sa mga bangko para sa mga loan (This is a very good law that could be beneficial for farmers and fisherfolk who would seek the help of government and banks for loans)," Aragones said.

Diokno said the national ID will be beneficial to all Filipinos, especially the unbanked Filipinos who are hindered from being enrolled in the formal banking sector due to lack of the required identification cards which are two government-issued ID.

“With the ‘Philippine ID’, unbanked Filipinos will have a proof of identity which is a key requirement in accessing formal financial services. This will enable more of our underprivileged countrymen to enjoy gains from and participate more actively in the country’s growing economy,” he said.

The central bank chief said the BSP-PSA partnership for this ID system is a “trailblazing field for both institutions.”

The program has about PHP30 billion total cost but Diokno said the cost of production, for what he dubbed as the foundational ID, will be about PHP3.4 billion or around PHP30 per card.

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