The National Privacy Commission (NPC) said that government agencies or investigative authorities do not have “blanket authority” to access or use information about private citizens held by another government entity.
This was in reaction to the Calbayog City Police’s request to the local court for a directory of attorneys defending those affiliated with the communist movement.
Raymund Liboro, Commissioner of the NPC, reminded all government agencies of their duties and responsibilities as “personal information controllers” under the Data Privacy Act of 2012.
“While the NPC recognizes that there may be a presumption of regularity in the conduct of police operations, the rights of the data subjects remain to be paramount and must be upheld at all times,” Liboro said in a statement.
He stated that the essence of the submitted information should be considered, as well as whether any information is needed to be kept private in accordance with other laws and regulations. The NPC is actively monitoring the incident.
Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, the PNP Officer-in-Charge, ordered the relief of Lt. Fernando Calabria Jr., the police intelligence chief of Calbayog City, Samar, and the signatory to the letter requesting the list of lawyers, which went viral on social media last March. Eleazar reported that the decision was taken in consultation with PNP Leader Gen. Debold Sinas.
He mentioned that the PNP is investigating whether or not such events have occurred in other regions.