Privacy commission: Public interest justifies disclosure of high-profile inmate deaths
MANILA, Philippines — The disclosure of high-profile inmate deaths is covered by the law requiring to report diseases and the freedom of information (FOI), National Privacy Commissioner Raymund Liboro said Thursday.
Liboro said this as he reiterated that the Data Privacy Act (DPA) should not be used to deny the public’s right to know the details on the deaths of high-profile inmates as public interest justifies it.
“Nais ko lang banggitin sa bagay na ito, hindi lamang po Data Privacy Act ang sakop o applicable law. Nandyan po yung ating Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act,” Liboro said in a televised briefing.
(I just want to mention that when it comes to this issue, the Data Privacy Act is not the only applicable law. We have the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.)
“Maging pong yung ating FOI, ang request po ng impormasyon kung ito nga po ay sumasakop bilang personal information o sensitive personal information, pag ito po ay nakita na matter of public concern, yan po ay nilinaw mismo ng FOI na yan po kailangan pong ilabas,” he explained.
(It’s also clear that under the FOI, request of information on personal information if it is a matter of public concern, it must be made public.)
Nine high-profile inmates from the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) died from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the Department of Justice earlier confirmed.
Among them was Jaybee Sebastian, a convicted kidnapper and car thief, who was a witness and co-accused in one of the drug charges against opposition Senator Leila de Lima which she has vehemently denied.
The Bureau of Corrections, however, refused to disclose the name of the inmates citing the Data Privacy Act.
“Sa aking pagtaya po, may justification po iyang public interest sa bagay na ito pagkat ang mga high profile PDLs [persons deprived of liberty] na tinatawag, by virtue of their association sa mga nakaraang mga national issue, naging public interest na po sya, naging public concern at naukit na sa kaalaman o kamulatan ng ating publiko,” Libiro said.
(In my opinion, there’s justification of public interest because the high-profile PDLs, by virtue of their association in past national issues, have become public interest or public concern and known by the public.)
“Kabilang po sa mandato ng DPA ay ang pagsisiguro po na may malayang pagpapalitan ng impormasyon, the free flow of information…hindi po kumot na puwedeng ipambalabal po natin para ideny ang freedom of the press, the right of the people to know,” he went on.
(Among the mandate of the DPA is to ensure the free flow of information. It’s not a cloak that can be used to deny freedom of the press and the right of the people to know.)
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