Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella clarified that despite the Data Privacy Act which allows them to “blot out” or redact sensitive information, the cabinet members’ SALNs are open for investigation if needed.
The Malacañang came under fire after the The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) noted that 167 details were blotted out in the 2016 Statement of Assets Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs), which seems to be a violation of the Freedom of Information executive order (FOI EO). They believe that such violation defies the essence of the FOI EO which aims to uphold transparency and full public disclosure of information, according to PCIJ’s official website.
Speaker Abella already answered the queries and defended the cabinet members that it is within their rights to “hold” certain information that are considered sensitive under the Data Privacy Act, as per an article by Sunstar.
But in a press conference in Malacañang, Speaker Abella clarified his statement and said that in spite of the Date Privacy Act, the SALNs of the cabinet members of the Duterte administration are always open for any investigation if needed. He was quoted by ABS-CBN saying, “The full disclosure has been made regarding the summarized amounts. And so from there, if indeed there is an investigation that needs to be done, then it can be followed through if these things are deemed suspect.”
He further added that: “These disclosures are not meant to be the total disclosure of the thing. In other words, if investigation is needed to be done, it may be done.”
The Data Privacy Act of 2012 was enacted to provide a strict privacy legislation “to protect the fundamental human right of privacy, of communication while ensuring free flow of information to promote innovation and growth,” as defined by the Official Gazette of the Philippines.