Philippines shifts focus to digital PhilID issuance, prioritizing smartphone access

Under the new strategy, smartphone users will be able to access services using their digital IDs before receiving the physical cards.

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The Philippines government has announced a strategy change regarding issuing the PhilID (Philippine Identification Card). The focus will now be on issuing digital versions of the PhilID, allowing smartphone users to access services even before receiving their physical cards. This shift aims to centralize the digital ID system, connecting all government agencies to enhance service delivery. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. oversees the project’s implementation, emphasizing its significance.

The Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) will manage the issuance of digital IDs. At the same time, the production and distribution of physical PhilID cards will remain with the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). The government has already produced over half of the applied-for PhilIDs, anticipating substantial resource savings upon project completion. The PSA aims to print 50 million ID cards by the end of the year.

The decision for DICT to issue digital PhilIDs follows a recommendation from the Department of Justice (DOJ) to President Marcos Jr. in May. The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and DICT aspire to make all digital ID versions available before year-end.

Why does it matter?

The move to focus on digital IDs to facilitate smartphone-based access to government services reflects the government’s acknowledgment of the evolving digital landscape and the increasing reliance on digital solutions, as exemplified during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, depending exclusively on digital IDs leaves the system vulnerable to service interruptions during technical outages. As a result, it becomes crucial for the government to address the challenges related to technological preparedness and to explore alternative forms of identification.