Palace: Passport data breach a 'serious, grave' issue

MALACAÑANG on Monday, January 14, expressed dismay over the Department of Foreign Affairs' (DFA) disclosure that a terminated passport contractor had caused the non-availability of personal data of Philippine passport holders.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the recent revelation of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoto Locsin with regard to supposed passport data breach was a "serious and grave matter."

"We are one with the Filipino people in their quest for truth and so we will not treat this issue lightly," Panelo said in a statement.

Locsin earlier claimed that a previous passport maker "took all" the personal information of passport holders.

The DFA chief's revelation was then followed by a requirement for those renewing passports to submit birth certificates.

Panelo said applicants should be encumbered by the agency's new requirement.

"Applicants should not be burdened by submitting original copies of their certificates of live birth, obtaining which requires another application process before the Philippine Statistics Authority, to renew their passports just because the producer lost their relevant data," the Palace official said.

"The submission of the old or current passport which the applicant seeks to renew should suffice for the purpose. The ongoing practice is not only cumbersome to everyone affected but is a form of red tape which this administration frowns upon and will not tolerate," he added.

The supposed passport data breach raised worry among the public, prompting the National Privacy Commission (NPC) to conduct an investigation on the issue.

Over the weekend, NPC commissioner Raymund Librado said the commission would summon DFA officials, other concerned agencies, and the unnamed contractor to shed light on the matter.

The NPC, created through the Data Privacy Act of 2012, is mandated to ensure that information and communications system in the government and the private sector are protected.

Panelo said the Palace was expecting that the NPC would thoroughly investigate the reported passport data loss and release findings, which may include the possible violations of the people concerned.

"The investigation should not, however, end here since the current arrangement for the printing of passports should also be examined to determine if there are violations of pertinent laws which may be detrimental to the public," he said. (SunStar Philippines)


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