Data privacy law can’t be used to defy subpoenas – Gordon
Senator Richard J. Gordon today thanked National Privacy Commission (NPC) Commissioner RaymundEnriquez Liboro for his earlier pronouncement that the law on data privacy rights cannot be invoked as an excuse to evade legal proceedings.
Gordon, who chairs the Senate blue ribbon committee, said Liboro’s pronouncement has now cleared any dispute whether those invited to attend the Senate hearing can conveniently hide behind the law protecting data privacy rights.
“We are glad that more people, both in the public and private sectors, and on their own initiative, speak up to uphold the rule of law,” he said.
“Liboro’s initiative and insights are greatly appreciated by the Blue Ribbon Committee and, if I may speak for the whole, by the Senate,” he added.
Last Oct. 21, Liboro issued an official statement to clarify that the 2012 Data Privacy Act cannot be invoked in refusing to comply with subpoenas issued by government investigating bodies and evade legal proceedings.
The law, he said, “does not prohibit the disclosure of personal or sensitive personal information (collectively, personal data) when necessary for purposes of complying with validly issued subpoenas by government investigating bodies.”
Liboro’s pronouncement came as the Senate blue ribbon committee is investigating the alleged anomalous multi-billion transactions the government entered with Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation (Pharmally) for the purchase of medical supplies.
Pharmally executives and other resource persons have been refusing to disclose information and documents on ostensibly legal grounds, such as those based on the Data Privacy Act of 2013.
It may be recalled that Pharmally Pharmaceutical’s corporate secretary Mohit Dargani, and president Twinkle Dargani have been cited in contempt and were orderedto be arrested for refusing to submit documents vital to the Senate investigation.
Pharmally Pharmaceutical Director Linconn Ong has also repeatedly refused to divulge information, citing what he referred to as “trade secret” when his company was able to corner big contracts for the procurement of COVID-19-related supplies.
The President’s friend and former economic adviser Michael Yang has refused to disclose vital information about his alleged dealings with Pharmally Pharmaceutical which he purportedly financed to corner big government contracts.
TigerPhil Marketing Corp. President Albert Sy has also refused to divulge vital information as to where he sourced the face masks he sold to PharmallyPharmaceutical, citing that he merely got them from his “Chinese community.”
Based on the Commission on Audit report in 2020, the Procurement Service – Department of Budget and Management ordered 114.95 million pieces of surgical masks and 1.32 million pieces of face shields in April and May 2020.
Pharmally sold these face masks at PhP27.72 per piece to PS-DBM, despite the availability of cheaper items from other suppliers. It also sold personal protective equipment at PhP1,910 each when the market price was PhP945 only.
The Senate blue ribbon committee will scheduled to resume its 13th hearing on Thursday at 11 a.m.