MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) renewed its call to all local government units (LGU) and the general public to use and patronize the StaySafe.ph application for digital contact tracing to boost the country’s tracing program amid rising COVID-19 cases.
DILG Officer-In-Charge Bernardo Florece Jr. said the online application is an effective tool for contact tracing nationwide to ensure “consistent, and unified contact tracing reporting.”
“Instead of using other apps, it is imperative for LGUs to use the StaySafe app for a unified system that will allow seamless, fast, and efficient contact tracing efforts,” Florece said during the MOA Signing and official turnover of the StaySafe app to the government through the DILG on Monday.
Florece said that while he appreciates the initiatives of LGUs and private companies in developing their own contact tracing systems, utilizing the StaySafe.ph app will make it easier for government authorities and medical experts to keep track of the cases all over the country and carry out decisive actions to stem the rapid transmission of the virus.
“Hindi po puwedeng kanya-kanya tayo. We need a macro view of the situation on the ground so that we will be armed with up-to-date information that will aid us in implementing COVID-19 response policies and measures,” he said.
Florece stressed that the app will also complement the efforts of the more than 250,000 contact tracers in the country who are doing physical contact tracing.
“We recognize that we need to further intensify our contact tracing initiatives especially at this time that we have a surge of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
“With the help of StaySafe app and the dedicated efforts of our contact tracing teams nationwide, I believe that this can help in successfully tracking down the cases and their contacts and prevent the spread of the virus,” he added.
Meanwhile, DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said the DILG and the DICT will hold a workshop for all LGUs with existing local contact tracing systems so that they can be integrated with StaySafe.
The DILG will also hold a workshop for all other LGUs since the use of the app is mandatory.
“In this time of the pandemic, we cannot afford to work singly and alone, apart from the efforts of the others. Hence, we need to unify our contact tracing initiatives through the StaySafe app. We will, of course, provide technical assistance to LGUs who may need help in integrating their own systems with StaySafe,” he said.
Malaya said that the StaySafe app is currently being used by some 15 Million individual users and some 700 LGUs across the country. The DILG aims to reach at least 50 Million users and connect all 1,634 city and municipal LGUs across the country.
He assured the public that the Stay Safe app will not be used for surveillance because it does not use GPS, rather it uses Bluetooth technology through the Google Apple Exposure Notification System.
“The doubters of this system can sleep easy. The system and its database are no longer in the hands of a private company but now in the hands of the DILG which will ensure compliance with all laws, rules, and regulations. The National Privacy Commission has also reviewed Stay Safe and it has passed the NPC’s review,” he added.
The DILG said the app engages the public against the spread of COVID-19 and aggregates all reports available in desktop and mobile versions, allowing the government to respond quickly to people’s needs and make informed and timely decisions to keep Filipinos safe during the pandemic.