Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Senators seek creation of public school database, death verification system

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian has filed a bill seeking the creation of a National Public School Database to promote access to education for the public through a streamlined enrollment process, while Sen. Jinggoy Estrada has proposed the setting up of an online death verification system in the country to facilitate the early detection and prevention of identity theft of deceased persons.

Photo from Brett Sayles via

Under Gatchalian’s Senate Bill No. 478 or the Public School Database Act, the Department of Education (DepEd) is mandated to develop, operate, and maintain a National Public School Database that contains learner information, which includes school grades, personal data, good moral record, and improvement tracking.

Gatchalian noted that physical documents are easily damaged and lost due to fragile storage, flood, fire, and other disasters. By storing learners’ school records in a database, important documents are preserved and become easily accessible to help with assessment, planning, and setting of operational targets, the lawmaker said.

Under the proposed measure, school administrators shall be given access to the National Public School Database containing learner records and other learner specific data, including exam scores, grade levels, attendance, and immunization records.

This is to help with the recording of biographical data for all learners, handling admissions and discharges, and the transfer of learners to other schools, he said.

Gatchalian also proposes a Database Information Program to train education professionals in the development and maintenance of the information in the National Public School Database.

The DepEd is further mandated to ensure the security and confidentiality of the information contained in the National Public School Database.

The bill provides that access to and the processing of information in the database shall be in accordance with the provisions of Republic Act No. 10173 or the Data Privacy Act of 2012.

“The National Public School Database will serve as a mechanism to provide timely, relevant, and accurate information to school heads and teachers that will help them perform their administrative tasks more efficiently,” Gatchalian said in the bill’s explanatory note.

Estrada, meanwhile, 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 Registrar (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 Register Electronic System.

The bill mandates the PSA to 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.

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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