MANILA — The Data Privacy Act (DPA) should not be used as a shield to deny public access to personal information of government officials, the National Privacy Commission said Wednesday.
The NPC noted that the law promotes the responsible and lawful use of personal information and is not designed to prevent access to personal information under any circumstances.
“The DPA is not meant to serve as a subterfuge to prevent the processing and/or disclosure of personal information sanctioned under law,” NPC Commissioner Raymund Liboro said in a statement.
He made the statement following reports stating members of the Cabinet of President Rodrigo Duterte were found to have redacted details on their Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).
Section 11 of Republic Act No. 10173 known as the Data Privacy Act of 2012 states that the processing of personal information subject to compliance with laws allowing disclosure of information to the public and adherence to the principles of transparency, legitimate purpose and proportionality.
The NPC said the public’s right to know the SALN of government officials is guaranteed under Republic Act (RA) No. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officers and Employees.
“Information required by RA 6713 pertaining to assets , liabilities and net worth and financial and business interests of the spouse and unmarried children under 18 , cannot be redacted Other personal information should be disclosed only when necessary for a legitimate purpose,” according to Liboro.
He added that any information that may not be explicitly required to be stated in the SALN should be assessed for its proportionality and necessity to the purposes and objectives of RA 6713.
The Civil Service Commission (CSC) may review the fields of the current SALN to ensure that it contains data sanctioned by RA 6713 and other applicable laws.
“Personal information outside this purview should be subjected to the requirements found in the Data Privacy Act specifically applying the principle of proportionality in determining whether to include certain fields of personal data in the current SALN form like: names of minor children and the specific residential address of the filer, when disclosing to the public,” the NPC head stated.
Malacanang earlier said that items detailing the possessions, financial obligations, and properties of Cabinet officials would be disclosed in their SALN.
Information such as acquisition cost and the total net worth, assets and liabilities will be disclosed to the public, according to Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Assistant Secretary Kris Ablan.
He clarified, however, that the practice of redacting the home address as well as the names of the unmarried minor children will be followed.
The CSC will form a technical working group to review the SALN guidelines, which may include the revision of the form on whether or not to include the names of the minor children, if there are no business interests at all. (PNA)