DOH admits ‘StaySafe’ contact tracing app had ‘almost no impact’

Come to think of it, has anyone ever reached out to you for contact tracing through the mobile app?

DOH admits ‘StaySafe’ contact tracing app had ‘almost no impact’
(Image: AP)

Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III admitted that the benefits of StaySafe, the mobile application officially implemented for contact tracing in over 200,000 establishments and around 700 local government units, is “very limited” and has “almost no impact” in monitoring the transmission of the COVID-19 virus.

This was Duque’s words during the investigation of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on the fund utilization of the health department, as a response to Senator Pia Cayetano’s claims that StaySafe only served as a “digital log” when entering establishments.

“In truth and in fact, the StaySafe app is merely a digital log of ‘yung nakasulat sa parang logbook na papel. That’s all it does. It’s in our imagination that it is interconnected with the national government’s tracking system or the local government’s tracking system because it is not. So all it is a log of who went in and out,” Cayetano said.

“Now who is tracking that? Who is going to alert that establishment if somebody is positive? Who is going to trace back when somebody is positive in the local government kung saan siya nagpunta? There is really no system that is doing that,” she added.

Despite his remarks on StaySafe’s limited capabilities, Duque, for his part, turned the body’s attention to the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), whom he believes “should really make the effort to explain” the application’s advantages. He also pledged to pass these concerns onto the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases or the IATF.

Alam ko po dito, noong inadopt na ‘yan ng national government, naka-connect ‘yan sa ating COVID Kaya, ‘yung data repository system ng DOH. Kasi doon malalaman kung sino ‘yung mga nag-positive tapos sino ‘yung mga exposed. But it was March pa the last time we had an update,” Duque said.

The mobile app, which was implemented as a mandatory requirement in entering establishments and public utility vehicles as early as June 2020, was turned over to the DOH and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) last March. 

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(Image: StaySafe PH)

Since its inception last year, it has been criticized for raising data privacy concerns, with one IT experts even dubbing the app as “borderline spyware” per Rappler. 

Last May, contact tracing czar and Baguio City mayor Benjamin Magalong also expressed that he cannot categorically claim that the app is “highly reliable,” citing the “lack of documentation” by the company behind it, MultiSys Technologies Corporation.

Kailangan pa po pag-aralan, ayusin pa at ayusin po pati ‘yung documentation, enhance pa further ang kanyang functionalities,” he added.

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