Palace steps into passport mess

January 14, 2019
Teodoro Locsin Jr.

MALACANANG yesterday assured the public that the government is investigating the passport data issue which it called a “serious and grave matter.”

This came after Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. revealed over the weekend that a previous contractor “got pissed” when its contract was terminated and “made off” with passport holders’ data.

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

The National Privacy Commission (NPC) has been directed to investigate the incident in the Department of Foreign Affairs and ascertain whether certain provisions of the Data Privacy Act of 2012, have been violated, according to Panelo.

Panelo noted that applicants seeking to renew their passports “should not be burdened” by submitting copies of their birth certificates.

“The submission of the old or current passport which the applicant seeks to renew should suffice for the purpose,” Panelo said.

He added that the “ongoing practice is not only cumbersome to everyone affected but is a form of red tape.”

“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,” the Palace official added.

Locsin has already vowed to solve the data breach, adding that he would “autopsy alive the yellows who did the passport deal.”

PNP help

Saying he naturally considers it a threat to national security, Philippine National Police chief Director General Oscar D. Albayalde yesterday offered the PNP’s help to the Department of Foreign Affairs in investigating the passport data mess.

“We’ll be very much willing to help them. We have our Anti-Cybercrime Group, our Directorate for Information Communications and Technology Management, our Information Technology Management Service and our Criminal Investigation and Detection Group,” the PNP chief told newsmen at Camp Crame.

DFA Secretary Locsin Jr. earlier vowed to unmask the people who were responsible for the recent passport data breach. Locsin also said he would leave it up to the Senate and the Department of Justice to investigate.