Data privacy law can’t be used to defy subpoenas – GordonBy Ernie Reyes

Data privacy law can’t be used to defy subpoenas – Gordon
By Ernie Reyes

MANILA — Senator Richard J. Gordon today thanked National Privacy
Commission (NPC) Commissioner Raymund Enriquez 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 ordered to 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 Pharmally Pharmaceutical, 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 be scheduled to resume its 13th
hearing on Thursday at 11 a.m. (Oct. 28).

(ai/mtvn)

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