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Palace cites privacy for SALN redaction

By: Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos

Malacañang defended the redaction of some items in the Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth of government employees, saying the censorship is to protect their right to privacy.

According to presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella, while the Executive branch upholds the principle of transparency and accountability in public service, government workers still have the right to privacy.

“There are some who may use the sensitive personal information and other data contained in the SALNs to harass people or commit fraud. We therefore consider security concerns as valid issues,” Abella said in a statement yesterday.

“With the Data Privacy Act in full force and effectivity this year, data protection officers are obliged to redact items in SALN to protect the right to privacy of all State workers, including Cabinet members,” he added.

The Palace official also said that the redaction of details in the SALN is consistent with global data protection regulations.

According to the National Privacy Commission, the Data Privacy Act adopts generally accepted international principles and standards for personal data protection.

“They safeguard the fundamental human right of every individual to privacy while ensuring free flow of information for innovation, growth, and national development,” the NPC website said.

The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) had earlier revealed that there were 167 redacted details in 29 SALNs that they reviewed.

These entries under the acquisition costs or amounts of personal properties, exact locations of real properties, and acquisition costs of real properties, were reportedly replaced by long, black, and blotchy rectangles.

These SALNs, included those of Cabinet members and other high-ranking officials, were released by the Malacañang Records Office to the PCIJ.

The PCIJ said the redaction mocks the Freedom of Information Executive Order signed by President Duterte last year.

The PCIJ said Duterte’s SALN had only one redacted detail – President’s address.

Duterte’s Cabinet officials had more redacted details in their SALN. Presidential Communication Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar had the most redacted details in his December 31, 2016 SALN with 10.