THROUGH TECHNOLOGY: Ensuring delivery of public services amid COVID-19

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    Shall initially feature three service nodes, namely the eGSISMO (mobile version), the GSIS Citizen’s Charter, and the directory of all GSIS Branches.

    The GSIS Touch mobile app will allow active government employees to view their Member Service Profile and service record, keep track of their premium remittances and loan payments, and know the maturity of their life, retirement, dividend, refund and Edu-Child claims, pre-need plans, and insurance policies. Retired government employees can likewise view their monthly pension releases and loan payments via the said mobile app.

    The mobile app also features the GSIS Citizen’s Charter which contains the step-by-step guide and turn-around-times for all GSIS transactions and processes, as well as the directory of all GSIS branches nationwide.

    “GSIS is adapting to the times. People today not only demand instant access to information; they also require safe, convenient service because of the pandemic,” Rolando Macasaet, GSIS president and general manager, said in October.

    “Our mobile apps will empower GSIS members and pensioners by giving them instant access to their individual service records, their premium remittances, and their loan payments – literally at the tip of their fingers. They don’t have to go to our branches anymore. They just have to tap in their cellphones,” he added.

    The second mobile app, the Motor Vehicle Claims Processing System, allows GSIS vehicle insurance policyholders to submit/send photos of their motor accident and insurance claim documents thru their cellphones. The motor accident insurance claim shall then be processed by GSIS without the vehicle owner having to file the claim personally.

    Meanwhile GSIS in December encouraged pensioners to report to GSIS online as it resumes the Annual Pensioners Information Revalidation (APIR) in 2021.

    “Pensioners must report to GSIS on their birth month in 2021 and it may be done online through Viber, FB Messenger, Skype or Zoom after texting or emailing the GSIS to request the online interview schedule. This contactless method will protect them from possible COVID-19 transmission as well as ensure the continuous receipt of their pension,” Macasaet said in a statement last December.

    Online APIR, according to Macasaet, is in addition to the other options given to pensioners to comply with the annual reporting to GSIS.

    “We are constantly finding ways to harness technology to make transacting with GSIS convenient and safe for our members and pensioners,” Macasaet said.

    Also, in April last year, during the enhanced community quarantine period, GSIS said that its members and pensioners nationwide may apply for the GSIS COVID-19 Emergency Loan program online.

    SSS

    Meanwhile, the online filing and registration of new employees as members of the Social Security System (SSS) along with the submission of most forms and benefit claims have been made mandatory as of July 15, the DOF said in a statement last August.

    SSS said the release of loans and benefits to members have been made “cheque-less” through the use of PesoNet and other electronic payment systems as of July 2020.

    Aurora Ignacio, SSS president and chief executive officer, also said that the submission of the Maternity Notification Form for pregnant female SSS members and the sickness notification form were required by the SSS to be done online, along with the retirement benefit claim of members who are at least 65 years old and the application for unemployment insurance benefit.

    The online filing of the applications for the calamity loan and salary loan were made mandatory by the SSS a month earlier on June 15, while the filing of the sickness benefit reimbursement claim of employers was required to be done online as of July 1, 2020.

    The online enrollment of bank accounts in the My.SSS or SSS online portal is already mandatory for members since June 2020 and for employers starting August 2020.

    This online enrollment will enable the SSS to automatically deposit benefits to the member’s and employer’s enrolled bank account.

    The SSS has also made mandatory the online filing of applications for the COVID-19 Calamity Loan Assistance Package since the program was launched last June 15.

    Online filing of funeral benefit claims for SSS member-claimants was made available starting July and will be mandatory by August, Ignacio said.

    The online filing of the retirement benefit claim of overseas Filipino workers and voluntary members who are 60 to 64 years old has also been made mandatory starting August.

    Meanwhile, in September, SSS also said that regular and household employers may remit their SSS contributions through several online payment facilities.

    “Over the years, we have established a strong partnership with our various bank collection partners who played a significant role in our contribution collections from our members and employers as well. It is why we tapped the internet banking services offered by our partner banks so they can remit their employees’ monthly contributions at their own convenience,” Ignacio said.

    Web facilities such as Security Bank Corp.–Digibanker and Union Bank of the Philippines–UnionBank Online may be utilized for the remittance of SSS contributions both for regular and household employers and Bank of the Philippine Islands –Bizlink for regular employers only.

    SSS said as of September that the following eGov BancNet member banks are also available to accept employer’s SSS payments online: Asia United Bank, Bank of Commerce, China Bank, CTBC Bank, Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company, MUFG Bank, Philippine Bank of Communications, Philippine National Bank, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., Robinsons Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and United Coconut Planters Bank.

    Aside from these online payment facilities, Ignacio said they may use their My.SSS accounts to check their employees’ contribution payments and loan repayments; generate payment reference number; monitor the status of their submitted sickness and maternity reimbursement claims; certify their employees’ salary loan and retirement; and submit maternity notification, sickness notification, employment report form, contribution collection list, and loan collection list.

    SSS also accepted online applications for the unemployment benefit from members who were involuntarily separated from work due to the impact of the pandemic.

    Pag-IBIG Fund

    The Home Development Mutual Fund, also known as the Pag-IBIG Fund, in August also said that it has improved its online service portal to accept applications for its cash loan program, in a move to ease and fast-track loan applications.

    According to top officials of the agency, several improvements were made to the Virtual Pag-IBIG during the quarantine period in the first half of the year to allow members to apply for a Multi-Purpose Loan (MPL) or a Calamity Loan, online.

    Launched in December 2019, the Virtual Pag-IBIG made it possible for members to transact with the agency online, with a live chat function available 24/7.

    Since its launch, the Virtual Pag-IBIG has been visited by 2.43 million members as of August, which include overseas Filipinos from over 222 countries, who were able to secure a Pag-IBIG Fund Membership ID number, enroll for an MP2 Savings account, or access their savings and loan records online, without having to go to a Pag-IBIG Fund branch.

    The Virtual Pag-IBIG also features an online payment facility that allows members to pay for their loans and remit their monthly savings using their PayMaya wallet or their credit cards.

    On June 1, the Virtual Pag-IBIG was enhanced to accept online applications for the agency’s MPL and Calamity Loan.

    According to Acmad Rizaldy Moti, Pag-IBIG Fund chief executive officer, cash loan applications are processed, on average, in less than two days if these are submitted via their online service platform.

    “The Virtual Pag-IBIG is game-changer for us. While nobody was ready for this pandemic, the launch of the Virtual Pag-IBIG late last year was timely because it allowed us to continue serving our members even during the imposition of community quarantines. And, as we adapt to the new normal, we hope that our move to make cash loan applications available via the Virtual Pag-IBIG would allow our members to experience faster transactions without leaving the safety of their own homes,” Moti said.

    E-governance to cut red tape

    Dominguez, in September last year, underscored the importance of switching to electronic governance (e-governance) to cut red tape, upgrade the delivery of services to the people and curb corruption in the government.

    Dominguez recommended to the President the adoption of three imperatives centered on digitalization and patterned after the Small Wage Subsidy Program (SBWS), to ensure the efficient and corruption-free distribution of future emergency subsidies to targeted beneficiaries.

    These three principles are the digitalization of the entire process from application to distribution of the subsidy, direct distribution of the aid through banks or electronic payment channels and adoption of close administrative oversight of the program, which includes tapping the expertise of the private sector to iron out possible implementation hitches as quickly as possible, Dominguez said.

    In his earlier report to the President, Dominguez said that by automating and digitalizing the SBWS, and with manual processing kept to a minimum, the government was able to efficiently and quickly distribute a total of P46 billion to 3.1 million employees of small businesses affected by the work stoppages resulting from last summer’s Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine and other similar containment measures to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.