Press Release
April 14, 2020

ANC interview of Senator Win Gatchalian with Ron Cruz on COVID-19: National ID system, cybersex trafficking and School Year 2020-2021

National ID system

Q: Good afternoon Senator. In what way could national ID system actually quicken government response to calamities like this?

SEN WIN: First of all, the national ID system will be unique to everyone meaning we will have a unique number that will avoid duplication because right now, the way we do things in our country is we gather physically the forms, the names, the addresses, the age and all the important information. More often than not, it is prone to duplication, it is also prone to fraud and the national ID system will enable the local and national government to avoid all of this fraud and duplication. The national ID system is confined with basic information such as the use of a unique number. It cannot share personal information to other agencies and to private corporations. The importance here is we have a unique number and that cannot be duplicated and assigned to only one person. In effect, the local and national government will use that unique number to cultivate other information and to propagate other data that they will need to deliver services.

Q: This was signed August 2018, what's been the problem in rolling this out?

SEN WIN: Actually, the slow pace is due to looking for the right software and the right implementor of the system. PSA is assigned to roll out the national ID system, PhilSys that is the brand of the national ID system but they also use third party vendors to implement the software and the hardware. They also use system instigators to make sure that the system will function properly and can be used by other government agencies. For example, if you will be assigned a unique number, that unique number should be allowed to tap into by other government agencies like LTO, GSIS, SSS. So interoperability is also very important that's why programming the national ID system took a lot of time.

Q: Why is there a problem in looking for a proper software and the proper service provider when you yourself mentioned that other countries have been doing this so meaning there is already an existing system out there that we could borrow or use?

SEN WIN: That's a very good point but there was also a lot of discussion on privacy and to make sure that the data collected from our constituents will not be leaked out. A case in point there is India, they collected close to 1.3 billion unique numbers, names and information of their constituents but they subcontracted it to third party and they had problems of information being leaked out. They have problems of hacking in India. PSA has been very careful in taking into account all this vulnerability and they make sure that the software and the implementor will be well-versed in our national ID system. The national ID system supposedly will be rolled out June 2020, they will be accommodating five million enrollees in the initial phase. However, with what's happening in our country, I think this will be delayed but nevertheless, if we had that national ID system, it will be very easy to roll out the third program such as the social amelioration program because that is prone to duplication.

Q: You mentioned India but aside from that can you tell us other countries who have this kind of national ID system and how it worked for them in this pandemic?

SEN WIN: Many countries already have this type of system. I mentioned India, India is the biggest country that implemented this type of national ID system. Of course developed nations like Singapore, the US, European countries they already have a national ID system. It's really meant to ease the transaction between government and it's constituents. It's meant to also reduce fraud, eliminate fraud and also eliminate duplications. It's also meant to harmonize the different systems of various government agencies. For example, as an individual, I have a GSIS ID, I have driver's license, a postal ID, I also have my local barangay cedula. Some of these can be harmonized now with one unique number and that unique number I can carry and use for application. For example I want to open a bank account, I can use my unique number and use my basic information there.

Cybersex trafficking

Q: Mr. Senator moving on to a couple more issues. Now there is reported caution on the possible rise in cybersex trafficking of children amid the lockdown. Where are you basing this warning?

SEN WIN: A lot of information we acquired are from advanced countries because the internet is now widely used. Because of the lockdown, a lot of constituents stay at home, they use the internet, they surf. A lot of our teenagers also go on the internet and look for information and this leads to a lot of cybersex incidences wherein pedophiles and cybersex offenders would go on and prey on teenagers and also on our children and a lot of these cases are now rising in a lot developing nations. That's why we have to make sure that our children our protected, we have to make sure that the government's anti-child trafficking task force are monitoring these incidences. We have to make sure that people know where to report because our country is quite vulnerable when it comes to trafficking and online pornography.

School Year 2020-2021

Q: One more issue that I would want to raise and I want to report. We have DepEd thinking of going online for the next school if the health crisis extends and this is one issue that you were mentioned of course. But there would be a problem with those without internet access and you don't want any learner left behind?

SEN WIN: Yesterday we had a long three-hour teleconferencing with DepEd and education stakeholders. We have I think we had almost 30 to 40 participants in that consultative meeting and the main topic was to discuss the school opening and what would be the short-term and medium-term and long-term adjustments that DepEd needs to make in our school system. We have 27 million learners in our country, 22 of which are in our public schools and we have to figure out whether we will open schools this coming June or not. And we agreed this is too early to decide on that this week. We will have to wait for the mass testing activities that government is undertaking today and hopefully results will come in by either the end of the week or early next week. Unless we have data and statistics and analyze, it's very difficult to decide whether to continue with school this coming June or not. But having said that, we also discussed the short-term and medium-term and long-term adjustments. Even though we open school whether on June, July or August, we would definitely need to make adjustments. Social distancing will be the norm, at least in the short-term and medium-term. But How will we incorporate these types of adjustments to our learners? How will we teach them in school? How will we implement social distancing in our classes? how will we implement social distancing in gatherings? Should we still have gatherings in school? These are the things we need to look at in order to make sure that we will still deliver high-quality education to our children.

Q: Okay thank you Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, thank you very much for talking to us.

SEN WIN: Thank you.

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