Jinggoy: Online death verification system will address bogus claims, ‘ghost voters’ and identity theft

SETTING up an online death verification system in the country will facilitate early detection and prevention of identity theft of deceased persons, Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada said.

“Sa maraming pagkakataon ay napatunayan sa maraming imbestigasyon na isinagawa ng Senado na nagagamit ang pangalan ng mga yumao na sa mga fraudulent payment claims, dayaan sa halalan at iba’t ibang uri ng panloloko. Panahon na para solusyunan ang bagay na ito,” he said. 

Estrada is set to file a bill proposing the establishment of the Philippine Death Check (PDC) Register, a centralized electronic database containing mortality data registered with the Local Civil Registry (LCR) to be managed by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

Under the proposed “Online Death Verification System Act,” once the death of a person is registered with the LCR, the information shall be immediately uploaded with the PDC Registration Electronic System. 

The PSA shall ensure the security and integrity of the PDC by safeguarding its data from breaches and other modes of tampering for the purpose of committing fraud. 

Estrada noted that criminals and syndicates have been exploiting the lack of immediate access to death data in carrying out their fraudulent activities and corrupt practices. 

The senator recalled the case of the multibillion-peso bogus claims paid by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to dialysis treatment centers uncovered in 2019. 

“Those funds that were intended for the poor and in actual need of medical assistance ended up in the hands of owners of private dialysis centers. This ‘ghost dialysis’ scheme involving the filing of claims before PhilHealth on behalf of dead patients highlighted the weaknesses in the bureaucracy and provided an impetus for stronger anti-fraud mechanisms,” Estrada said as he pushed for the enactment of the measure. 

The bill, Estrada said, could also help in purging the list of registered voters as he noted that names of those who have already departed are used by unscrupulous individuals to manipulate the results of poll exercises.

To establish an efficient, integrated, and centralized online death verification system, the PSA shall allow immediate access to information to PhilHealth, the Commission on Elections (Comelec), Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), Social Security System (SSS), Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF), and Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) to ensure early detection and prevention of identity fraud. 

Provisions of the Data Privacy Act of 2012 on the processing of personal information shall still be strictly complied with, Estrada stressed. 

Fines ranging from P500,000 to as much as P4 million, as well as imprisonment of three to six years will be meted to those found to have committed an intentional breach of information.

 

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