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Palace rejects BC requirement for passport renewal

FILIPINOS line up to obtain passports in a Department of Foreign Affairs satellite office in Manila. (Jansen Romero)

FILIPINOS line up to obtain passports in a Department of Foreign Affairs satellite office in Manila. (Jansen Romero)

Malacañang on Monday described as “cumbersome” the move of the Department of Foreign Affairs to require applicants renewing their passports to bring their original birth certificates following the agency’s declaration it lost passport data to its old contractor.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the remark as the DFA vowed to address its passport data loss after a previously outsourced printer allegedly took off with passport holders’ documents when its contract was terminated.

“Applicants should not be burdened by submitting original copies of their certificates of live birth, obtaining which requires another application process before the Philippine Statistics Authority, to renew their passports just because the producer lost their relevant data,” Panelo said.

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

“The ongoing practice is not only cumbersome to everyone affected but is a form of red tape which this administration frowns upon and will not tolerate,” he added.

Panelo described the passport data breach as a “serious and grave matter” and assured that the National Privacy Commission is determining if there were any violations of the Data Privacy Act 2012 or Republic Act 10173.

“The National Privacy Commission has been directed to investigate the incident in the Department
of Foreign Affairs and ascertain whether certain provisions of Republic Act No. 10173, otherwise known as the Data Privacy Act of 2012, have been violated, particularly with respect to the personal information of the data subjects,” Panelo said.

Panelo, however, emphasized that 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.

He also assured that the Palace would not treat the issue lightly.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the passport data breach is a national security concern.

“It is a security concern. I believe this happened several years ago. The Department of Foreign Affairs is looking into it and I am sure they will come up with an appropriate solution so that nothing of this sort happens again,” Lorenzana said.

“It is a very grave security concern and quiet alarming. These are personal information such as full name, date and place of birth and other information that could be used illegally,” he added

Lorenzana said that the Department of National Defense is ready to assist the DFA should they need their help to retrieve the personal information if they are still retrievable. “We will get in touch with the DFA to find out the details of this issue and how to mitigate its ill effect,” Lorenzana said. (PNA, Argyll Geducos, and Francis Wakefield)