MANILA — Malacañang on Monday described as “cumbersome” the ongoing practice of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) 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 this 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 in a statement.
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 (NPC) is determining whether there were any violations to the Data Privacy Act 2012 (R.A. 10173).
“The National Privacy Commission (NPC) 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.
Earlier, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., bared that the previous contractor has made inaccessible the data it was entrusted to after its printing contract was terminated.
It may be recalled that Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, through French firm Francois-Charles Oberthur Fiduciare, had been printing passport booklets before the contract for the production of Philippine electronic passports was awarded to the APO Production Unit Inc.
Locsin hinted that the “crooked” passport deal in the previous administration is to blame for the passport mess. (PNA) By Azer Parrocha