After the Philippine Press Institute, Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas, and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) rejected the Data Privacy Act’s penalty provisions, Senator Edgardo Angara quickly retorted through a statement that the proposed bill aims to reinforce the Philippines’ e-commerce and business process outsourcing (BPO) sector, not to suppress the freedom of speech.
The organizations are keeping an eye on Sen. Angara’s imminent decision to urge the bicameral congress to scrap the penalty clauses which are believed to impede press freedom. NUJP Spokeswoman Veronica Uy said they believe that the Senator will keep his promise regarding the omission of the penalty clauses.
Angara, who is also Chairman of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology, stressed that even if the proposed bill aims to protect and maintain the integrity and confidentiality of personal data, it will not affect journalists who publish “leaked” information. In fact, he pointed out that Section 4 of the Data Privacy Act in the bicameral conference version excludes “personal information processed for journalistic, artistic, literary or research purposes”. Civil servants and government officials are excluded as well.
Angara likewise reiterated that the Constitution clearly recognizes press freedom as well as a person’s right to privacy. Also, the Data Privacy Act is an added protection for personal information stored and shared online or other ICT [information and communication technology].