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S. Cotabato tracing system makes UN summit

Sundy Locus



An international leader’s summit coinciding with the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, will feature South Cotabato’s innovative coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Contact Tracing System (SC-CCTS) on Thursday.

SC-CCTS was chosen by the UN-supported Open Government Partnership (OGP) as among the eight best practices in the world in terms of open response and recovery efforts against the disease and as a “great example of cross-sector collaboration and thorough consultation,” according to Jennifer Bretaña, head of the Provincial Planning and Development Office.

The initiatives were done after public consultation, engagements with the civil society and mechanisms to ensure transparency and accountability.

“We are happy that they noticed our efforts,” Bretaña said.

Among those invited to the virtual summit, a first in UN’s 75-year history due to the coronavirus pandemic, are heads of states and leaders of international civil society organizations (CSO).

A physical summit is impossible as heads of states must travel with a retinue, making physical distancing impossible.

But the iconic Assembly Hall will not be entirely empty as one diplomat per country will be allowed to introduce the videotaped speech of the leader.

Approximately 210 people are expected in the hall, as opposed to the usual 2,500 or so during regular assemblies.

A locally produced video about the SC-CCTS will be presented by OGP, which advocates the idea that “an open government is more accessible, more responsive, and more accountable to citizens and that improving the relationship between people and their government has long-term, exponential benefits for everyone.”

OGP maintains contacts with national government agencies and local governments and CSO in 78 countries, including the Philippines.

SC-CCTS, launched by the provincial government in June, functions as a digital logbook.

Through the use of quick response-coded identification cards, it logs and tracks movement of registered residents in establishments, offices and even in local events and activities, thus tracking and identification of close contacts of COVID-19 patients are faster.

Other areas in Region 12 (SOCCSKSARGEN) are replicating the SC-CCTS, Bretaña said.

Governor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr., who conceptualized the system, wanted a contract tracing system that can cover all residents, even those without smartphones.

“The system went through a lot of enhancements as a result of the consultations, including the adoption of data protection and safeguard mechanisms and the creation of its own audit team,” Bretaña said.

Meanwhile, South Cotabato is under general community quarantine the entire September and its borders on lockdown. The South Cotabato Medical Society likewise asked the provincial government for stricter controls to help them control the spread of the virus.