Philippine Statistics Authority data vital in nat’l ID system

Franklin Drilon
Franklin Drilon

THE Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) should enhance its data sharing capability with the imminent implementation of the national identification system.

Minority Leader Franklin Drilon expressed hope the PSA, repository and custodian of all data and main implementer of the Philippines Identification System Act, would be more open to sharing the data relevant to service delivery.

Drilon’s reaction came after Philhealth said PSA refused to confirm whether the patients of a dialysis center claiming benefits with the state health insurer have already died due to the data privacy law.

Drilon, the principal author of the Philippines Identification System Act, said the law’s objectives will be achieved more efficiently if PSA would be more open to sharing the data relevant to service delivery.

“The establishment of a single national ID system and an effective data sharing between and among government agencies could help prevent fraudulent transactions from arising in the future,” Drilon said.

Drilon cited, for instance, the alleged refusal of PSA to confirm whether the patients of a dialysis center claiming benefits with Phihealth had died.

Drilon said that simple sharing of data could help prevent fraudulent transactions such as the “ghost dialysis” treatment controversy that plagued the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) and caused the government billions of pesos.

A former justice secretary, Drilon dismissed claims that the fact of death of a person is a privacy issue.

He explained that the fact of death is not a sensitive personal information that PSA should withhold, particularly if it involves the disbursement of public funds.

“What danger would it pose to the deceased person, or his or her family, if Philhealth knows that he or she is already dead?” Drilon asked.

“None. This is just a factual question answerable by just yes or no, but is very important for PhilHealth and other agencies disbursing public funds for the benefit of claimants to know in order to verify the legitimacy of a claim and prevent fake, illegal and fraudulent transactions,” Drilon said.

Drilon’s law mandates the establishment of a single national identification system for all Filipinos, here and abroad, in order to enhance the delivery of basic services to the public and eliminate corruption, among others.

Malacanang announced that it would pilot test the national ID system by September 2019.

Once the national ID system is in place, Drilon said that agencies tasked to disburse public funds for the benefit of claimants, including PhilHealth, Social Security System, the Government Service and Insurance System, and the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office, among others, can readily verify information about the claimant before they disburse public funds.