The National Privacy Commission (NPC) said on Friday law enforcement or investigative agencies of the government do not have “blanket authority” to access or use information about private individuals under the custody of another government agency.
NPC Commissioner Raymund Liboro 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.
This was in response to the request made by the Calbayog City Police to the local court for a list of lawyers representing persons identified with the communist movement.
He said consideration should be made on the nature of the requested information and whether such information is required to be kept confidential in line with other laws and regulations.
Liboro said the NPC is currently monitoring and seeking to obtain additional information on the incident.
Last week, PNP Officer-in-Charge, Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, 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.
The decision, Eleazar said, was made in consultation with PNP Chief, Gen. Debold Sinas, who is currently under quarantine after contracting the coronavirus disease 2019.
He noted that the PNP is checking if there are similar incidents in other areas.