National ID a wise move in this digital normal?

INTROSPECTIVE - Tony F. Katigbak (The Philippine Star) - August 12, 2020 - 12:00am

It’s no secret that 2020 is ushering in a wide variety of changes. In fact, for those of us who are used to doing things the more traditional way, one of the hardest adjustments to the so-called “new normal” is that old ways may no longer work anymore and as they say – it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks.

Unfortunately, because of the global pandemic, change is inevitable and this time it’s careening in at breakneck speed.

One of the major changes is large-scale digitization. While this was happening long before the pandemic, the quarantine has ensured that this is no longer an option, but a need. Analog is just not going to cut it anymore and has to be partnered with digital channels to make things easier and more efficient. Plus, digital solutions help when it comes to no-contact and social distancing.

While I can certainly see the benefit digital channels offer, it also robs us even more of human connection and contact, and that is something that everyone truly needs. If there is another thing this pandemic is teaching us, it’s that people are not meant to live with this level of isolation. Even though time alone is certainly a luxury every once in a while, this forced separation is taking its toll on everyone.

But we change as we have to. Adapt or die as they say, and right now it’s pretty much survival of the fittest as people find new ways to live, and businesses find new ways to work. Is this going to be permanent? Everyone hopes not, but we have to make it through the day and that means finding new and efficient ways to do things easier, faster while cutting down human contact for the time being.

So digitization is happening all around us. We see it in our delivery apps, in the way we connect and correspond with one another, and in the way we do our work. Again, this is most likely not forever – after all, there is still a premium in tangible things. Nothing can ever really replace a firm handshake, the feel of paper on your fingers, or face-to-face interaction. But while these are temporarily put on hold, we look for alternative ways to do things.

Such is the case for the National ID program, which has been in the works since well before the pandemic. Many may say that this should not be a priority at the moment, but according to the chief of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), the launch of the national ID and the acceleration of the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) will aid the country’s digital economy and help in the transition to the “new normal”.

According to Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua, with the digital economy paving the way for new types of work and bolstering the efforts of MSMEs, a digital national identification system would be integral to business and ensuring safe online transactions and work. He added that digital identity is the fabric of the digital economy and would provide value to both providers and consumers.

Before the pandemic, I was in favor of launching the streamlined national ID system. This would cut a lot of red tape and make it easier by combining government identification under one system. Many were wary of the program though, saying that safety was an issue and this type of system would make identity theft easier, voter fraud a possibility, and privacy a real concern.

Admittedly, these issues still exist today, but with the right planning and proper implementation, I think the system can work. I think that alongside aggressive COVID response planning, we also need to find beneficial ways to help boost the economy and make business easier for all enterprises in the country.

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Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has launched new banknotes with tactile marks to help the elderly and visually impaired. They also feature the latest in anti-counterfeiting technology. The new bills are an upgrade of the ones in circulation that were first issued in 2010. Bills are regularly enhanced and released every decade or so to promote security and the integrity of the currency.

It’s nice that the BSP took into consideration the needs of the elderly and visually impaired when designing the new banknotes, and it’s a step in the right direction of fulfilling their commitment to bringing BSP closer to all Filipinos. A more inclusive approach to currency design is the right first step. These new bills will be accepted in tandem with the current banknotes in circulation so Filipinos won’t have to worry about liquidating their current bills just yet.

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