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Gov’t execs entitled to privacy, too – Palace

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Gov’t execs entitled to privacy, too – Palace

/ 07:20 AM September 24, 2017
Ernesto Abella 2

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella FILE PHOTO / MALACANANG

Government officials are entitled to some privacy even with the administration’s policy of transparency and accountability, Malacañang said on Saturday as it defended redactions in Cabinet members’ statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).

“While we uphold the principle of transparency and accountability in public service, those working in the government, such as members of the Cabinet, still have the right to privacy,” said presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella.

“What was redacted are not information on assets, liabilities and net worth but personal data like family members, home address, among others,” he said.

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“We must take note that the current SALN form has not been amended to comply with the data privacy in consonance with the global standards,” Abella added.

He did not say why the acquisition costs of real and personal properties were blacked out from several SALNs, as reported by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism.

Aside from personal data, the redacted information included acquisition costs, locations and description of personal and real properties.

Abella explained that several personal data must be removed in compliance with Republic Act No. 10173, or the Data Privacy Act of 2012, which came into full effect this year.

“With the Data Privacy Act in full force and effectivity this year, data protection officers are obliged to redact items in SALN to protect the right to privacy of all state workers, including Cabinet members,” he said.

“This is consistent with global data protection regulations,” he said.

“There are some who may use the sensitive personal information and other data contained in the SALNs to harass people or commit fraud. We therefore consider security concerns as valid issues,” Abella said.

Moreover, Abella said the Data Privacy Act overrides Executive Order No. 2 on freedom of information that President Duterte signed on July 23, 2016.

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“The Freedom of Information, which is cited by parties requesting for the SALNs of members of the Cabinet, is an executive order and therefore must yield to a higher law,” he said.

He also said redaction of information in public documents was not new and was practiced in other countries, such as the United Kingdom, which also had a data protection law.

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TAGS: Ernesto Abella, PCIJ, right to privacy, SALNs
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