Senator Jinggoy Estrada on Wednesday called for the centralization of death records through an electronic system that could address the rampant fraud on death claims and other insurance benefits.

Estrada said the bill, which will establish the Philippine Death Check (PDC) Register, a centralized electronic database containing mortality data registered with the Local Civil Registrar (LCR), could also be the answer to the usual proliferation of “ghost” voters being employed by erring politicians during election season.

Under the proposal, the Philippine Statistics Authority will be tasked to manage the PDC Register and to detect and prevent identity theft of the deceased.

“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 (It has been proven during past Senate investigations that names of dead persons are being used in fraudulent payment claims, electoral and other forms of fraud. It’s about time we solve this problem),” Estrada said in a statement.

He cited the case of the multi-billion-peso bogus Philippine Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) claims made by a dialysis center that was exposed in 2019.

Those funds, he said, were intended for the poor and in actual need of medical assistance but 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 once the death of a person is registered with the LCR, the information would be immediately uploaded to the PDC Register Electronic System.

He assured though that the bill would provide safety nets to ensure the security and integrity of the data.

The senator also expressed his belief that putting up a centralized registry of the deceased could help purge the list of registered voters being exploited by unscrupulous individuals during elections.

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, Government Service Insurance System, Social Security System, Home Development Mutual Fund, and the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office to ensure early detection and prevention of identity fraud and it will strictly follow the Data Privacy Act of 2012 on the strict compliance with the processing of personal information.

Once enacted into law, those who will be found to have committed an intentional breach of information will be fined PHP500,000 to as much as PHP4 million and imprisoned for three to six years. (PNA)