January 29, 2023

The National Privacy Commission issued an advisory that provides guidelines on evaluating requests for personal data of public officers.
Under Advisory 2022-01, any disclosure of personal data must observe the general privacy principles of transparency, legitimate purpose, and proportionality.
Every government agency must be responsible for personal data under their control or custody.
The personal data of public officers, including individuals who are or were performing service under contract for the government, may be disclosed if the requested information is a matter of public concern or interest, provided that the information is relevant to the subject matter of the request, and disclosure is not otherwise prohibited by any law or regulation.
Commissioner John Henry D. Naga said the advisory “aims to strike a balance between the right of the people to information on matters of public concern and the right to privacy of an individual.”
Under Section 7 of the advisory, requests for information about public officers and individuals performing service under contract for the government must have a clear, specific, and legitimate purpose that does not contradict laws, morals, or public policy.
When evaluating requests, the government agency shall determine whether the information requested is a matter of public concern and whether there is a public purpose to be served that may outweigh the rights and freedoms of the public officer as a subject.
The requested information or document may be granted or denied upon the evaluation of the government agency considering the aforesaid elements.
Further, access or disclosure of the requested information must not exceed the specified purpose declared by the requestor.
If the requested document or information is denied and deemed not of public concern, the requesting party must be informed within a reasonable time accompanied by a justification.
The public officer whose information is being requested shall also be informed of the existence of the request and the action taken by the concerned government agency.
The government agency may likewise determine whether particular sensitive personal information is irrelevant or unnecessary to the fulfillment of the purpose of the requesting party which should be redacted to protect the dignity, safety, and security of the public officer.
Some of these information may include the declarant’s home address; details of any unmarried children below 18 years living in declarant’s household, if any, particularly their names, dates of birth, and ages; signatures of the declarant and co-declarant; and government-issued ID numbers of the declarant and co-declarant.
Deputy Privacy Commissioner Leandro Angelo Aguirre said the guidelines emphasize that data privacy and freedom of information coexist and must be mutually enforced.
“We hope that this circular addresses some misconceptions that data privacy and the freedom of information are in conflict with each other. A key mandate of the National Privacy Commission is to ensure the free flow of information. The work of the NPC is to ensure that the access to and disclosure of the personal data of public officers is not curtailed but rather done in a manner that is consistent with what the law requires and respects their rights and freedoms as data subjects,” Aguirre said.
Information about public officers and individuals performing service under contract for the government that may be disclosed are the fact that the individual is or was an officer or employee of, or performed service/s under contract for, a government institution; the title, business address, and office telephone number of the individual; the classification, salary range, and responsibilities of the position held by the individual; the name of the individual on a document prepared by the individual in the course of employment or contract with the government; and other circumstances similar to the foregoing.
Documents, such as Personal Data Sheet and Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth that contain sensitive personal information of the concerned public officer, or his or her family, may be granted if there is a declared, specified, and lawful purpose.
Read the NPC advisory in full at www.privacy.gov.ph. – Press release

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