Online death verification system will help eradicate ‘ghost voters’, identity theft—Jinggoy

Senator Jinggoy Estrada is now pushing for the establishment of an online death verification system in the Philippines to help in the early detection and prevention of identity theft of persons who have already died.

Estrada said he is set to file a bill proposing the establishment of the Philippine Death Check (PDC) Register—a centralized electronic databse containing mortality data registered with the Local Civil Registrar (LCR) and to be managed by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

Under the bill, once the death of a person is registered with the LCR, the information shall be immediately uploaded with the PDC Register Electronic System.

“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 (On many occasions it has been proven in the many investigations conducted by the Senate that the names of the deceased are being used in fraudulent payment claims, election fraud and various types of fraud),” Estrada said in a statement.

“It is time to solve this matter (Panahon na para solusyunan ang bagay na ito),” the senator stressed, noting that criminals and syndicates are exploiting the lack of immediate access to data to carry out their fraudulent activities.

Also under the bill, the PSA shall ensure the security and integrity of the PDC by protecting its data from breaches and other modes of tampering for the purpose of committing fraud.

Estrada recalled the case of the multibillion-peso bogus claims paid by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to dialysis treatment centers uncovered in 2019 and which the Senate investigated.

The senator lamented 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,” he said.

The bill would also help the government purge the list of registered voters of names of persons who have already died.

Estrada said unscrupulous individuals have been using the list to manipulate the results of national and local poll exercises.

The bill, he said, seeks to integrate and centralize the online death verification system by authorizing the PSA to give PhilHealth, the Commission on Elections (Comelec), Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), the Social Security System (SSS), Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF) and Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) immediate access to information.

Estrada assured the bill will still strictly comply with the provisions of the Data Privacy Act of 2012 on the processing of personal information.

The bill will also penalize persons who would be found to have committed an intentional breach of information with fines ranging from P500,000 to as much as P4-million,