Carmi Martin was spot on

CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - January 16, 2019 - 12:00am

In the movie “No Other Woman,” actress Carmi Martin warned us: “Ang Mundo ay isang malaking Quiapo. Maraming snatcher, maagawan ka. Lumaban ka” (The world is one huge Quiapo that’s full of snatchers. Someone will snatch your spouse. You must fight back). Last year, I encouraged my “students at the IPOPHL or Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines to find a way to adapt that memorable warning in relation to the IPOPHL’s campaign to promote intellectual property protection and registration. Who would have imagined that months later, thousands of Filipinos would seriously be worried about intellectual property theft upon knowing that their personal data submitted to the Department of Foreign Affairs have been taken by an IT provider who was unceremoniously dropped by the DFA.

As a result thousands if not hundreds of thousands will once again have to resubmit a copy of their birth certificate, perhaps, NBI clearance or whatever other information were removed from the DFA IT depository. That inconvenience will surely get the ire of Filipinos who continue to suffer from red tape and bureaucracy in spite of the threats of President Duterte. Inconvenience is one, but what remains to be known is if all the information taken by the dismissed or dropped supplier will find their way into the market by way of mailing list, potential voters etc. who will be flooded with offers and campaign materials.

On the other hand, if we choose to, this unpleasant discovery may somehow make Congress and the Senate realize the urgent need to tighten up on IT providers who have often held government offices or agencies hostage when it comes time to renew their contracts. For many years if not decades certain companies have lorded over the automation needs of government agencies simply because they were ahead of the line, controlled the files, owned the system and there was not a darn thing that government could do if the supplier was being arrogant or irresponsible. Much like highly technical engineering maintenance contracts, these automation services and contracts tend to create monopolies that have no fear of walking out or even holding government service at bay. If there is one lesson to be learned from what people call the “identity theft” at the DFA, it is the need to toughen up on laws and punish businesses that hold the government and the public hostage or take away confidential personal information without consent.

The incident also raises the question on how long should personal data or documents such as copies of birth and marriage certificates be kept by government as well as what level of control should service providers have over data. We all assume that the data is in the hands of government but the reality is that private companies have more control over said public documents. In an era of distrust among nations, charges of spying by telecommunications companies and foreign meddling in elections, it is time to wake up and address what potentially can become a real threat to national security.

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My wife and I were recently “bugged down” as in we got bitten by the bug or some form of flu that messes with your stomach causing diarrhea for days then fever then joint aches, and unlike the flu of old that knocks you down for three days, this bug does not necessarily beat you down but certainly drains your energy and could, I believe, develop to pneumonia. The Department of Health has already come out with a Health Alert on four types of flu and has advised senior citizens, people with health issues such as cardiac disease, and children to get the flu vaccine for all four types. 

I have actually ignored the health warning in the past but after reading the advisory to “people with health issues,” it dawned on me that getting the flu shots might not be a bad idea if your health is somewhat compromised. When you’re young it’s easy to be dismissive of such warnings but later in life or when you come to terms with a disease or ailment, vaccination becomes a very serious consideration if only to lessen health risks.

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Before the month of January suddenly disappears, I need to remind our readers to do two very important things that will be well worth your money if you ever have the need. First is to enroll your self with Lifeline Ambulance Service (c/o Michael Deakin 16-911). For the amount of P2,000 per year, you have peace of mind that if you ever need emergency medical service and an ambulance you can almost be sure that help will be on the way. Late last year, one of my former schoolmates needed an ambulance service for a distance of six or eight kilometers and was being charged P20,000. Michael Deakin’s company also provides other options you might want to ask if ever you get drunk and don’t want to drive, or if you need a doctor asap on a motorcycle.

Similarly, I strongly suggest to our readers who own or drive their own cars to enroll with the Automobile Association of the Philippines for roadside services. The AAP allows you to enroll two vehicles per enlistment at P2,240  as well as a “Fleet” category and this buys you towing or car carrier transport if your car ever konks out or breaks down on EDSA – SLEX – STAR Toll or NLEX. Bear in mind that other towing services or car carrier services charges minimum of P4,000 to P6,000 to rescue you IF they can get to you. The AAP crew are all professionals and it’s the kind of insurance you need on the road. By the way, the enrollment also buys you an actual “insurance” policy.

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Email: utalk2ctalk@gmail.com

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