National  ID system needed—Senator Gatchalian

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Gatchalian

Senator Win Gatchalian on Friday said the government needs to hasten the implementation of the national ID system for a quicker health and calamity response in the future to prevent a repeat of the mistakes committed in tracing persons suspected with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infections.

Gatchalian said, the law, which was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in August 2018, is aimed at creating a single official identification card for all citizens that would interconnect government-issued IDs.

The senator said the National ID System will have basic information to be sourced from data collected by the Philippine Statistics Authority. The cards will be given for free.

The government has started pilot testing the national ID system last year which originally was set to run up to June this year before formally rolling out the project in July next year.

Gatchalian recalled during a hearing of the Senate Committee on Health assessing the Philippine government’s preparedness on the outbreak of COVID-19 last February that Health Secretary Francisco Duque III admitted that they encountered difficulties tracing people who came in contact with COVID-19 patients because some have incomplete or erroneous contact details listed with airline companies.

Gatchalian said some countries with lower COVID-19 cases like Taiwan used their respective national data to trace their citizens’ travel history.

Since January when the world started taking notice of a new coronavirus disease that was rapidly spreading from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the neighboring Taiwan integrated travel records from its National Immigration Agency with the National Health Insurance Administration’s (NHIA) existing database to alert doctors of their patients’ travel history.

By scanning the patient’s NHI card, an alert will pop up if the patient has traveled to or transited through countries with high cases of COVID-19.

Singapore also made use of its National Registration Identity Card (NRIC) for collecting information for the purpose of contact tracing and other measures in its fight against COVID-19.

Taiwan and Singapore have each recorded two deaths as of March 26 while the rest of other nations grapple to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Philippines may learn from the experiences of Singapore and Taiwan on how these countries harnessed their national IDs in containing the outbreak that is sweeping across the globe. That’s why the government needs to implement the national ID system as soon as possible to ensure that we will be more ready in case of future pandemics,” Gatchalian said./Stacy Ang

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