Press Briefing

Press Briefing by Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella with Presidential Communications Operations Office Assistant Secretary Kris Ablan, National Privacy Commission Deputy Commissioner Ivy Patdu and Presidential Legislative Liaison Office Secretary Adelino Sitoy

Event Press Briefing
Location [Kalayaan Hall, Malacañan Palace

OPENING STATEMENTS:

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Good morning. Today, we have two resource persons.

First from the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office, Secretary Adelino Sitoy. And the second one is from the National Privacy Commission, Deputy Commissioner Ivy Patdu.

Secretary Sitoy finished his Bachelor of Laws at the University of San Carlos and Masters of Laws at the University of Southern Philippines, both in Cebu.

He will discuss the legislative agenda of the Duterte administration and some points on federalism.

Also, Deputy Commissioner Ivy Patdu obtained her Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of the Philippines Manila and her Juris Doctor degree from the ADM.

She will shed light on the Data Privacy Act and its connection with the implementation of the freedom of information in the executive branch.

We’d like to ask now, Madam Ivy Patdu. 

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER PATDU: Good morning everyone. In a country where we cherish freedom of the press, freedom of expression, openness, transparency and accountability, we may often ask the question of what is the Data Privacy Act for; what is the data privacy; and why should privacy matter.

Let me start off by saying that the Data Privacy Act is about protecting individuals and protecting their personal information. It’s founded on the right to privacy.

One of the more popular definitions of the right to privacy is the right to be let alone. It was actually from writing made my Justice Brandeis of the US Supreme Court. But it started from a popular essay which was written because of the fear of how technology and the press would unlawfully interfere with private life ‘no.

So this was the origin of this definition. But later on, it became a definition that is said to comprehend, to become a comprehensive right ‘no, valued by civilized men. Why is this?

The right to privacy is important because it is at the crucible of a lot of the rights that we enjoy as individuals.

For instance, the reason that we are free from unreasonable search and seizure of our homes because we have the right to privacy in our homes. The reason that we can invoke the right against self-incrimination is because of the right to privacy.

Even freedom of the press, freedom of expression, it depends on how we are able to guard the anonymity of confidential sources of the press. How we as a nation, as a country, values freedom of thought.

So this is what the right to privacy is about. It is long been enshrined in our jurisprudence that it is a constitutionally protected right.

So the Data Privacy Act applies to one specific aspect of the right to privacy. This is the information privacy. So the law will apply whenever what is involved is the processing of personal information.

So this law was brought about because of the changes that we have in the world ‘no. We live in the digital age. No longer we will have to sort through files or documents, no longer do we need to wait for our newspapers to have information. It’s practically at the tips of our fingers because information, as Senator Angara said when he spoke about the Data Privacy Act, is the currency of power.

So this law proceeds from the premise that personal information is valuable and it has to be protected. [Next slide] 

So the Data Privacy Act does not say that the right to privacy is absolute, neither does it assert to be a preferred right in the hierarchy of rights. What it instead says is for us not to ask the question of which right would prevail.

It’s not about asking whether freedom of information would prevail over the right to privacy. It’s about putting value to these rights and finding a way to harmonize how they can both be exercised, because after all, all of these freedoms, whether it’s freedom of the press, freedom of information, the right to privacy, they are all rights that are critical to a democratic society. [Next silde] 

So it is not… It’s not intended to be a shield ‘no from legitimate concerns about public interest or it will not shield government officials ‘no. It is easy to claim that the privacy becomes an obstacle to transparency and public accountability.

But its very provision already says that it will not apply when the matter or the information concerns something about public official; their functions, whether they enter into contracts, whatever benefits they received from the government ‘no. The Data Privacy Act excludes that from its scope. [Next slide] 

And it already recognizes the existence of other laws ‘no. So sometimes you would hear people say that we should find a law that will prevail over the SALN for instance ‘no.

But this law already recognizes the existence of these laws. It asks again for these laws to be harmonized. It considers as lawful processing any processing that is done in accordance with law.

Like for instance, any legal obligations, such as the obligations found in RA 6713 of the Code of Ethics of Public Officials or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

It does not amend. It does not even say that it is attempting to amend these laws. What it just says is that because information is valuable, because it is important, then it must be part of the consideration when discussing issues that concern personal information and personal data.

So if we look at the law, the SALN law, for instance, what is the required fields? Real property, assets, liabilities and net worth. Even if you look at these through the Data Privacy Act, these are not sensitive personal information, therefore there is no restriction, hindrance, there’s no need to redact this information because they are information that are covered by the law. [Next slide] 

But like all other constitutional freedoms, the right to information is not absolute ‘no. We say that the right to privacy is not absolute so is the right to information. It is limited to matters of public concern and information — any other limitations that may be provided by law.

And this law, the SALN for instance, has been discussed already by the Supreme Court. And even the Supreme Court, [next slide], recognizes that there may be limitations or prohibitions on access to SALN. [next slide]

It refers to the law itself, 6713, which says that whenever use or obtaining or use of SALN is the factor, then the purpose must not be contrary to morals or public policy.

Second, [next slide], and it also recognizes the IRR of the same law, 6713, which says that included limitations will be any disclosures that would put the life and safety of an individual to danger or any unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. [next slide]

So I think what the Data Privacy Act is there for because it applies to all the processing of personal information is for us to be more circumspect when what is involved is personal information.

For instance, if you look at the SALN form, assets, liabilities, net worth, these are not sensitive information, these are the information required by law to be produced.

But there are other information in the SALN form that maybe we could evaluate whether it is still necessary and proportional to the legitimate aim of having transparency and good governance.

So the SALN form will contain the names for instance, birthday of children, minor children. It will be included in the SALN form. ID numbers ‘no, home address.

Now, it has been a big issue about redactions of SALN. But, you know, even the Civil Service allows redaction of SALN in terms of the home address.

Even the Ombudsman circular on disclosure of SALNs and even by practice, names of minor children and home address are already redacted.

If it’s a question of assets, liabilities, and net worth, then of course, that should not be redacted. That is part of what is mandated to be included in any disclosure of the SALN form. [next slide]

So there are also some points about whether a government official, a public personality, still has a right to privacy. Whether this right is no longer available if a person chooses to be in the public eye.

Again, we can find guidance from the Supreme Court that discussed this in several cases. And the court said that a public official, yes, he has less expectation of privacy than other individuals, but this does not mean [next slide] that he is bereft of any constitutional protection as well.

In fact, the very first decision of the court which recognize privacy as a constitutional right is about the SALN ‘no. There, the court said, that there’s — it’s not an invasion of privacy if you release information about the assets, liabilities, and net worth of a public official. But it still emphasizes, that you know, a public official is not bereft of any constitutional protection. [next slide] 

Assuming a public office is not tantamount to completely saying that he has no rights at all. I know that politicians or government officials or public officials are under magnifying glass when it comes even to their personal lives ‘no.

But there are some matters that we have to be circumspect about to evaluate whether it would be unwarranted already to invade on their privacy. [next slide] 

Because after all, the Data Privacy Act is not really just… It’s a law, yes, that allows for the protection of personal information but we must not forget that maybe what is involved is the higher right that is constitutionally guaranteed and that is the right to privacy.

And why should personal data be protected? No matter the… It doesn’t matter who’s the individual, the rights that are available to us should apply to all.

If we become selective in the application of rights or if we feel that any of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution are less important, then that will become a slippery slope and all these rights in the Constitution are important to us, important for a democratic society.

And personal information in the wrong hands, if it’s unauthorized use, it can be used for a lot of harm, it could cause a lot of harm to individuals.

So for instance, you have identity theft or the use of identity to harass people. Even when you look at [next slide] — if you look at the recent statistics of the Philippine National Police, incidents wherein personal information is misused has been increasing, including identity theft. [next slide] So, [next slide]. 

And, of course, when we think about important considerations like public policy or what is necessary for us, you have to question whether what information we are requesting from the SALN is really necessary and proportional to the purpose of accountability and good governance ‘no.

Minor children, for instance, should they really be included? Would it detract from our purpose of having a clean government if we redact the names of minor children? Because they are, after all, part of the public policy of the Philippines, in accordance with international conventions, Convention of the Right of the Child, our Constitution, and a lot of other laws is to protect the best interest of children.

So these are considerations that must be made. We must not jumped into immediately saying that the right to privacy is not important because after all, when it concerns a public official, we have to look at his family as well, including minor children. [So next slide] 

And now if you look at the experiences of other jurisdictions, even the personal address is really a cost for personal safety and security ‘no. Siguro nga parang minsan you feel that politicians or government officials may deserve this, but let’s also think of their family.

Here, this one is a government official from Melbourne, and this is what he said, himself he felt was fair play but when it concerns his house, where his family lives, then he feels that it’s already overstepping. And these are the dangers when we forget the importance of how this personal data should be protected.

If you think that it’s just routine that should be released without thinking of their value. [next slide] 

So I think these are more examples ‘no. Politicians sometimes stand for unpopular belief and they can be victimized too, they can be attacked ‘no. [next slide] 

And let’s not forget that the Data Privacy Act does not just apply to politicians, most certainly not. But it is law that is applicable to everyone. It aims to protect the rights of everyone and if you start saying that there are exemptions from the protection of this law, then it will be difficult because it upholds a basic right.

In this case, yes, she’s a public personality and I think if there was a Data Privacy Act in this case, there would be less problems, because she was attacked by her stalker. She was an actress in the US. She was attacked by a stalker because the stalker obtained her address from their registry in motor vehicles. Iyong DMV nila.

So later on, a law was passed that said, you know a home address should not just be released. So I think this is the same principle when we are faced with questions that involved personal information. [next slide] 

The Data Privacy Act should not be used as a shield, to shield public officials from scrutiny, especially when these are matters that are of legitimate public concerns. But neither should this law be ignored or should be set aside when what it is involved is personal information, because this law is for all of us.

In a democratic society, right to information and freedom of the press is important. But equally important is the right to privacy, because without it, then there will be a problem with a lot of the other rights that we enjoy.

Information privacy is necessary for safety and security and it is for us to enjoy what we should enjoy as a democratic society. Both these rights are important and both these rights should be zealously guarded. So iyon, thank you.


QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:
 

Tina Mendez (Philippine Star): Good morning, ma’am. Ma’am, how are you assessing the provision under the Privacy Act that exempts personal information to be used for journalistic and research purposes? 

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER PATDU: Yes, thank you for that question. The… Included in the scope where the Privacy Act will not apply are information that are processed for journalistic, artistic and research purpose.

This means that journalists are given greater flexibility. In fact, this is not the only section in the Data Privacy Act that allows protection of journalists.

It reiterates the protection given to confidential sources of journalists. So this means that when you publish these matters, you will be judged only whether it is libelous, the regular limitations on freedom of speech whether it’s putting a person in a false light, whether it violates any law.

But you’re not prohibited from using information which you feel is important. Again, the balancing of interest will come here.

It will be determined whether in your processing of personal information for journalistic purpose, whether it can be balanced or whether there is already lack of balance with privacy ‘no.

Ms. Mendez: So, ma’am, in case journalists ask for SALNs of public officials, including Cabinet members, does it follow that it should be — come in form na may redactions agad-agad? Because if a journalist asks for it, ‘di hindi pwedeng — pwedeng hindi agad i-invoke ‘yung National Privacy Act?

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER PATDU: If a journalist asks for it, then it will be accord — in accordance with the purpose ‘no.

So perhaps the question that should be asked… By the way, I think the Civil Service is drafting its own guidelines and the National Privacy Commission will also be issuing an opinion.

But just to address that issue, it should be asked what is the purpose? For instance, what is the purpose of knowing the exact home address of a politician? But this can be appealed, I think ‘no.

Under the FOI Framework, even if the names of the minor children, for instance, have been redacted because of the public policy of putting the best interest of the child at hand, which is an acknowledged prohibition under the 6713, then you can appeal.

If you feel that it’s important for your journalistic purpose, the names of minor children ‘no. But then when you weigh it, the public policy involved and the connection of the names of minor children and their birthdays to the interest of transparency and public accountability, then perhaps, we have to give due consideration also to the policy of protecting the interests of children.

Ms. Mendez: Thank you, ma’am. 

Dexter Ganibe (DZMM): Good morning po. Kasama po ba ‘yung mga personal bank accounts sa mga pinoprotektahan ng Privacy Act?

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER PATDU: Well, the Privacy Act considers as sensitive personal information those classified by law as privileged ‘no. Bank accounts, they are also protected by another law, the Bank Secrecy Law ‘no.

But the SALN requires you to put in the amounts. And it also includes a signature of the person that allows the Ombudsman to look into all this.

Remember that the Ombudsman, for instance, when it accesses the SALNs, it’s without any redactions at all. And they are given also the additional power to ask other government agencies for any additional documents that will verify the SALN.

So as to the purpose, remember that these are filed without redactions. The original remains unredacted, without any defacement at all, it is there.

It is only when disclosing certain sensitive information, perhaps, that you should weigh it against the interests of privacy, especially if the privacy concerns are no longer limited to the government official but involves his family, who is not in public service or involves children ‘no, or involves information like government ID, which can be used for perpetuating other crimes ‘no.

But as to the assets, liabilities, net worth, I think the law is clear — 6713 is clear that these should be disclosed without redactions.

Mr. Ganibe: Natanong ko po kasi, ano po ang take ng Privacy Commission doon sa mga official ng government na naglalabas ng mga private bank account numbers, pina-publicize?

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER PATDU: Whether it’s verified or not ‘no, they may be in violation of the law but that’s not for the National Privacy Commission to say.

And any decision of the National Privacy Commission or opinion on that matter would have to depend on the particular circumstances of the case ‘no. Pero a lot of laws will be involved — maybe the bank Secrecy Law, maybe the Code of Ethics of Journalists when they publish it, maybe — many other laws.

But as to the Privacy Commission, that’s considered sensitive personal information. But if it’s being published by a journalist, then the flexibility given for purposes of journalism may apply. 

Mr. Ganibe: Oo, kasi natanong ko po ‘yun kasi ‘yun ‘yung nagiging isa sa mga grounds nung isinampa ni Senator Trillanes laban kay PCOO Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson.

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER PATDU: The…? 

Mr. Ganibe: ‘Yung pagpa-publicize nung kanyang account number — offshore account number?

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER PATDU: Okay. I cannot comment on that. Maybe it will become a subject of our — a formal — maybe a formal opinion ‘no.

But again, this is the purpose of the law ‘no. And this is the beauty of being in a democratic society, that we can debate about whether one should fall into the right to privacy sphere, whether it’s already a matter of public concern.

Even when the Supreme Court discusses matters of public concern, it says that it has to be decided on a case-to-case basis. 

Mr. Ganibe: So it doesn’t mean if you’re a public official, hindi ka exempted doon sa Privacy Act? 

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER PATDU: Sabi ng Data Privacy Act, ‘pag public official ka at lahat concerning your office, your function, kung nag-enter ka ng contract with the government, may nakuha kang benefits sa government, hindi siya covered ng Data Privacy Act.

Dine-delineate lang siguro what is in relation to the function and what are private matters. And whether it’s a private matter is up for discussion because what is legitimate public interest, it can encompass a lot of things.

So that’s why it has to be decided based on the particular case. Kasi like, ‘pag tinanong mo, for instance, bank account versus names of minor children, baka mas weight na dapat bigyan natin ng privacy ‘yung names ng minor children over something that, you know, is a matter — might be decided as a matter of public concern. 

Alexis Romero (Philippine Star): Commissioner, correct me if I’m wrong [sorry] correct me if I’m wrong. You mentioned acquisition costs of personal and real properties are not sensitive and therefore, they need not be redacted. Is it correct?

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER PATDU: Yes. Yes.

Mr. Romero: Okay. But there’s a PCIJ report recently stating that some Cabinet officials redacted this crucial information. Do they have any liabilities, if ever?

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER PATDU: Well, if… I think that Asec. Ablan here will be able to clarify that. Maybe you should try requesting it to them again and there will be no redactions.

If ever any redactions were made in the past, perhaps that’s been clarified already in the past few weeks that those information are not — they should not be redacted.

Mr. Romero: So they should not be redacted?

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER PATDU: They should not. They should be open to the public and they should be included in the SALN.

And I think that if you request for those same documents with the Freedom of Information, they will be released without redactions of acquisition cost. 

Mr. Romero: Are there liabilities if ever for those who redact those information?

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER PATDU: It will be decided on whether there was good faith, whether they were trying to comply with the law, whether… There are so many factors to consider ‘no.

But if a complaint is filed before the National Privacy Commission, for instance, on why those were not disclosed, it will be determined — it should be addressed first by the proper body and I think they have addressed it.

Mr. Romero: Can you educate us on what are the possible sanctions if a complaint reaches your office and then it is proven that they deliberately — they redacted those information. What can be the possible sanctions?

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER PATDU: It will be… Actually when you talk about Freedom of Information, that’s strictly not for the National Privacy Commission to decide. Because what the National Privacy Commission is concerned about is individual rights.

So if you’re an individual and your right is violated, then that’s the time you go to the Commission.

When it’s about Freedom of Information, then other laws will apply, whether your Constitutional right to no information on matters of public concern will be involved, that could be civil — a lot of laws may apply to that ‘no.

But for the National Privacy Commission, it’s about you as an individual and your own information.

So if you feel for instance, that your — it will be the other way around ‘no. If there is unwarranted disclosure and you put in danger people because you process their information, use their identity, you process information for the wrong purpose, then that can be covered by the Data Privacy Act and the sanctions under the law are quite hefty ’no imprisonment and fine.

Mr. Romero: Regarding the addresses. It’s understood that you do not put the exact address because it could, you know, be a — it could pose a security risk or an invasion of privacy. But are there mechanisms to scrutinize an official’s residence to make sure that he is declaring — he or she is declaring the correct information?

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER PATDU: I think the Civil Service will be issuing guidelines on how specific the location should be.

And for journalists, I think it will — there are a lot of ways to find out the exact address given the address that — or the location that is provided in the SALN ‘no.

Kasi mag-i-issue ang Civil Service diyan. So as of now, ang alam kong guidelines ng Civil Service, it has to be specific enough but not exact. Specific enough that you will be able to find out where it is. 

Mr. Romero: Thank you, Commissioner.

SEC. SITOY: Salamat. Maayong buntag sa tanan. Good morning to the Malacañang Press Corps.

I’m going to give you an update on the federalism campaign initiated by the administration.

Starting from the House of Representatives, there was a concurrent House Resolution No. 09 submitted by the Committee on Constitutional Amendments last February 15.

And then the resolution was, “To Constitute the Congress of the Philippines as a Constituent Assembly for the Purpose of Proposing Amendments to, or Revision of, the 1987 Constitution.”

And then the resolution of both Houses, consolidated into No. 8 — Resolution No. 8, filed by Congressmen Gonzales and De Vera.

Again, “Resolution of Both Houses Constituting the Senate and the House of Representatives, [Seventeeth] Congress, Into a Constituent Assembly.”

And these resolutions were referred to the Committee on Constitutional Amendments on August 8, 2017, chaired by Congressman Roger Mercado.

The Committee adopted as working draft the proposed Presidential-Bicameral-Federal draft Constitution contained in Resolution No. 8 and it created four technical working groups to deliberate on the proposed measure:

TWG 1, the Executive-Legislative Relations chaired by Congressman Malanyaon; and [TWG] 2 on the Judiciary chaired by Congressman Fred Castro; [TWG] 3, Preamble National Territory, chaired by Representative Benitez; and TWG 4, Articles 11-15, Accountability of Public Officers, National Economy and Patrimony, Social Justice and Human Rights, ducation, Science, Technology, Arts, Culture and Sports, Family, chaired by Congressman Veloso.

In the Senate, there are pending in the Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes headed by Senator Pangilinan.

These are the resolutions or Senate Bills:

Senate Bill No. 128 filed by Senator Zubiri, “An Act Constituting a Constitutional Convention to Amend the 1987 Philippine Constitution.”

Defining qualifications for its delegates shall be filled — elected simultaneously with the October 2016 Barangay Elections, it should have been… This was filed earlier but this is now overtaken by the postponement of the barangay election.

Resolution of Both Houses, Senate Resolution No. 1 authored by Senator Drilon, Calling for a Convention to Propose Amendments to or Revision of the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines.

And joint… Senate Joint Resolution No. 1 authored by Senator Gordon: Joint resolution to propose amendments to or revisions of the economic provisions of the Constitution.

On the part of the executive department, the Cabinet approved my presentation of roadmap to federalism. And by reason of that approval, we under… We started to undertake our information drive on the principles of the fundamentals of federalism.

So on March 30-31 in Quezon City, the PLLO Congressional Chiefs of Staff held an interface activity.

On May 23, 2017, at the Malacañang grounds, we tendered a dinner and briefing on federalism with the new lawyers of Cebu.

On June 6, 2017, in Tuguegarao City, we had a briefing on federalism and a workshop.

On June 29, 30 in Makati City, we had a Makati Federalism Summit.

On July 4-5, 2017, in Quezon City, we had a PLLO Congressional Chiefs-of-Staff Interface Activity.

On July 11, 2017, in Dumaguete City, we conducted a federalism briefing and consultative workshop.

On August 17-19, Cebu City and Mandaue City, and involving the whole province of Cebu, we conducted a Perspective Horizon and Impact of Federalism Project.

On August 22, 2017, at the Bayleaf Hotel, Intramuros, Manila, we had a briefing on federalism and consultative forum with the Comelec Employees’ Union.

And in Bacolod City on August 25, 2017, we had federalism briefing and consultative forum in Bacolod.

September 14, at the Bayleaf Hotel, we also had a The Coming of Change: Federalism in the Philippines, The Impact  to Our Youth and Future Leaders.

The upcoming activities will be held on September 27, in PUP Sta. Mesa, Manila. And also, we have scheduled similar activities in Lucena City, Naga City, and Lipa City.

Those are the updates on our campaign for federalism. In regard to legislative priorities of the 28th Common Legislative Agenda, one had become a law, the Free Higher Education Act. And the others are already on second or third reading, including the endo — end of endo — Security of Tenure Bill, and the utilization of the coco levy fund.

And, of course, the comprehensive tax reform which is now in the Senate, and this will be the subject of a bicameral conference between the House and the Senate.

Those are all.

Philip Tubeza (Philippine Daily Inquirer): Good morning, sir.

SEC. SITOY: Good morning.

Mr. Tubeza: Nakahanap na po ba ng sponsor for the BBL sa Congress?

SEC. SITOY: I beg your pardon?

Mr. Tubeza: Nakahanap na po ba ng sponsor, ng lawmaker na magso-sponsor ng BBL sa Congress at sa Senate?

SEC. SITOY: Sponsor of?

Mr. Tubeza: The BBL, sir. The proposed Bangsamoro…

SEC. SITOY: BBL?

Mr. Tubeza: Opo.

SEC. SITOY: In regard to BBL, we already submitted to Congress — the House and the Senate — a draft bill for their consideration.

And I think the House will be ahead of a filing a copy of that bill so that it can be referred immediately to its committee —pertinent committee.

Mr. Tubeza: Sino po sa House ang magfa-file at kailan po kaya ito magfa-file?

SEC. SITOY: I think it’s the Speaker who will be filing the bill himself.

Mr. Tubeza: At kailan po ito expected na ma-file, sir?

SEC. SITOY: Hindi pa.

Mr. Tubeza: Bakit po natagalan na bago makahanap ng sponsor for the law, for the proposal?

SEC. SITOY: I do not know.

Mr. Tubeza: Sige, sir. Ano pong mauuna, would you expect the BBL to be approved first or ‘yung campaign natin for federalism, Charter Change?

SEC. SITOY: Side by side, I think. Both are important. And during the last LEDAC, it was agreed that the Bangsamoro Bill will also be pushed through.

Mr. Tubeza: Do you think, sir, the BBL would be passed before the year ends?

SEC. SITOY: If there is some delay but I think a good progress can be had before the year ends.

Mr. Tubeza: Which means, sir, could you elaborate on that?

SEC. SITOY: Before the year ends, we hope to have the bill already on second or third reading.

Mr. Tubeza: Okay, thank you, sir.

Mr. Ganibe: Hi, Sec, maayong buntag.

SEC. SITOY: Maayong buntag.

Mr. Ganibe: Sec, do you have update on — [what do you call this?]— the postponement of the barangay and SK election? I learned it is already approved in third and final reading at the Senate? When will be the bicameral conference committee?

SEC. SITOY:  I don’t know the schedule yet, but that is already passed by the Senate. And considering the — a little difference between the Senate version and the House version.

Although, in principle, they have already agreed to consolidate the two versions. In due time, it would be submitted to the bicameral committee, but I do not know the schedule.

Joseph Morong (GMA): Sir, ang sa Congress daw po yata I think the House has adopted… Ah no, the Senate has adopted the House report on the SK — effectively postponing both Houses ‘no. Now, it’s being readied for the President’s signature. When it reaches the President, do we expect na pipirmahan na rin niya ‘yung postponement of the elections, the barangay and SK considering his past statements of, you know, barangay officials being involved in drugs?

SEC. SITOY: I’m sure the President will sign it because he issued a certification on urgency.

The only difference was on the date — with respect to the date of the next election. The House version cited May 2018.

But the Senate version cited October. And I think in principle, the House is agreeable to October.

Mr. Morong: And do we expect the President to also just — to agree to an October rescheduling?

SEC. SITOY: I think during the bicameral conference, the October schedule will be carried.

Mr. Morong: Thank you, sir. Sir, on the BBL lang, where do we… Sir, dun sa 28 common legislative agenda, was the BBL included in that list?

SEC. SITOY: 28?

Mr. Morong: 28 common legislative agenda.

SEC. SITOY: Ah yes.

Mr. Morong: Was the BBL in that… Can we call this a priority list?

SEC. SITOY: Yes, this is the common legislative agenda with reference to the 28 items. Common in the sense that the items were agreed upon between the Executive and Congress.

Mr. Morong: Sir, how would you… Where would you… How would you describe, sir, the importance of the BBL as far as the legislative agenda of the Duterte administration is concerned?

SEC. SITOY: All of these 28 were included in the Presidential Legislative Agenda. In short, the Congress had agreed to the items listed in the Presidential Legislative Agenda.

Of the 25 items originally listed, the 28 had been agreed upon by Congress. So there is no point anymore in not having this facilitated in both Houses.

Mr. Morong: Okay, sir, thank you for your time.

SEC. SITOY: Thank you.

Mr. Tubeza: Follow up lang po, sir. ‘Yung sa BBL po uli. You mentioned sa House, expected ang Speaker ang magso-sponsor. Meron pong reports na sa Senate, it’s the Senate President who might sponsor the bill. Confirmed na po ba ‘yun?

SEC. SITOY: I’m not sure about the Senate. But even in the House, considering that we submitted a draft bill to the Speaker himself and to the Senate President, unless they opt to find another author, we would expect them to author the bill.

Mr. Tubeza: So hindi pa rin po confirmed ‘yung sa House, on the part of the Speaker?

SEC. SITOY:  Not yet firmly confirmed.

Mr. Tubeza: Thank you, sir.

SEC. SITOY: Thank you.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: On EO 42. The President signed yesterday Executive Order, EO 42 — Number 42 — defining the powers and functions of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) administrators and directors.

EO No. 42 likewise repealed EO No. 340 Series of 2004, which separated the position of the SBMA Chairman — Chairperson — from the position of SBMA Administrator.

EO No. 42 directed that the appointed SBMA Administrator of the President will also be the ex officio Chair of the SBMA Board.

On the postponement of barangay and SK elections:

The Palace welcomes the move of the House of Representatives to adopt the Senate’s final version postponing the barangay and SK elections.

We expect the President to sign the proposed bill into law.

On the NPA-government clash in Batangas:

The government is currently monitoring the situation in Brgy. Talumpok Silangan in Batangas. The military is on top of the situation, and will release updates as soon as the information becomes available.

On other matters.

Philippines is the most prepared ASEAN country on infra buildup:

The Philippines is the “most ready” in increasing infrastructure build-up among ASEAN countries according to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).

The country’s preparedness is attributed to its substantial financing opportunities, the government’s tax reform program, rising revenue collections, and the declining debt ratio.

On high-heels:

All right. Starting last September 24, private workers particularly women in retail and/or service employees, assembly line workers, teachers, and security personnel no longer have to wear high-heels as the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has fully implemented their the Department Order (DO) No. 178.

The order aims to prevent health risks for women including strain on the lower limb and so forth.

In addition, employers are required to provide rest periods or shorten the time spent on standing or walking. Accessible and comfortable seats should be provided as well as installation of appropriate flooring or mats which will lessen the impact of prolonged standing and frequent walking.

On the surrender of 9 NPA bombers:

The surrender of 9 NPA bombers, including the turnover of powerful improvised explosive devices, in Sultan Kudarat is a positive development in our efforts to restore peace and maintain order in Mindanao.

Many lives and properties have been saved because of this action of the communist rebels, who are trained to make and use powerful bombs to return to the fold of the law.

The efforts of community and the local government in working out the surrender of the nine NPA bombers are to be lauded.

Regarding on incident at the PSG Compound:

Per PSG Spox Mike Aquino, it’s still under investigation and they will issue a statement on the matter soon — soonest.

Today, 26th of September, Day 127, a rundown on few statistics:

Enemies killed – 707 or an increase of 12

Civilians killed – 47

No change in civilians rescued

No change in firearms recovered

Killed-in-action – 151

Buildings cleared – 11

As of 2:30 PM 25th of September yesterday, the status of cash donations:

For the Marawi AFP casualty, we now have a total of PhP 103,062,182.78; and Marawi IDPs – 59,395.

We are open to a few questions.

Mr. Ganibe: Hi, Usec.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Po?

Mr. Ganibe: Good morning. Two issues lang po.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes.

Mr. Ganibe: Una, ‘yung sa EO 42.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Opo.

Mr. Ganibe: Does that mean SBMA Chairman Martin Diño was stripped of his powers or sinibak? The update sa kanya?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: There will be a new… I think an announcement will be made shortly as soon as the appointment papers are signed. So…

Mr. Ganibe: He will be appointed to another, you mean?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Let’s just wait for the announcement to be made.

Mr. Ganibe: Appointment papers, tama po? Merong appointment papers kay Martin?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I did not say. There will be new appointment papers which will be announced later. Okay?

I mean, appointment papers.

Mr. Ganibe: Sa SMBA ba?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Opo.

Mr. Ganibe: Okay. Sir, on the second matter —

Raymund Tinaza (Bombo Radyo): Sir, what prompted the President to issue Executive Order 42 aside from that issue of confusion of functions and powers?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: As far as I know, as according to the OES when they made a study, they saw that it was actually the two positions who were originally, according RA, Republic Act, it was supposed to be two offices in one person.

So I think they reverted to that. That is what they diverted to.

Mr. Tinaza: So was Chairman Diño consulted with this EO? Or I mean informed before the release of the EO?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I’m not privy to that matter. However let’s just wait for the announcement that will be made shortly.

Mr. Tinaza: Last question, sir. How is the relations between the President and Diño?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I wouldn’t know. I’m sure… I suppose civil.

Mr. Tinaza: Thank you.

Mr. Tubeza: Sir, clarify lang po doon kay Chairman Diño. You mentioned appointment papers. Does this mean he’s on his —

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Paper.

Mr. Tubeza: Paper.  Does this mean he’s on his way out?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Ano po?

Mr. Tubeza: Does this mean he’s on his way out?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Hintayin na lang po natin ‘yung paper na ilalabas mamaya. It will be out shortly.

Mr. Ganibe: Sir, you’re saying SBMA Chairman Martin Diño will be re-appointed sa SBMA?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Regarding any of those matters, that is beyond me. The only thing that I can say at this point is that the two offices have been conflated into one position — into… The two offices would be — will be assumed by one person.

Mr. Ganibe: That would be Martin Diño or the —

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Let us wait for the appointment paper.

Mr. Ganibe: Sir, may lumalabas na mga binabanggit. Martin Diño will be given a position sa DILG as undersecretary?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Hindi ko rin po alam ‘yan. I cannot say that.

Okay. Yes, ma’am?

Leila Salaverria (Philippine Star): Hi, good morning, sir.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Good morning, Leila.

Ms. Salaverria: Sir, given the National Privacy Commission’s position on the SALN, can we expect no redactions of acquisition cost and anything pertaining to assets and net worth in future request?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I think the good commissioner earlier said that if you check again, they will give you the full.

Ms. Salaverria: So the Palace will follow that?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Will the Palace follow that? [laughter] Come again? Except the names and the ano. Except those other items that were pointed out earlier, that cannot be included. Yes?

Ms. Salaverria: So all information pertaining to their assets, liabilities, and net worth will be made available in full?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Apparently, yes.

Ms. Salaverria: Okay, thank you.

Mr. Morong: Sir, rephrase ko. Now, if there’s a request again of the SALNs of the Cabinet members, will the new release not cover or show the acquisition costs of the assets?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: It will show.

Mr. Morong: So if requested, you’re willing —

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: If requested, yeah.

Mr. Morong: So can we request now? [laughter]

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: From me? Not from me, but them. [laughter] All right. Any other questions?

ASEC. ABLAN: Yes, just to continue where the Spokesman mentioned, if a request is made because of the guidance from the National Privacy Commission and we also had a meeting amongst the six SALN repository agencies yesterday as already scheduled prior.

And we learned also that four out of the six SALN repository agencies do redact the names of the unmarried minor children and the home address, then those will be redacted upon request.

So the acquisition cost and the total net worth, the total assets and the total liabilities will be disclosed.

Mr. Morong: Okay, so I don’t think we have a quarrel whether we have to release or not the private matters ‘no parang given naman ‘yon na, fine, ‘wag mo nang ilagay ‘yung mga bata ‘no.

ASEC. ABLAN: Yes.

Mr. Morong: But as far as the details that would show the wealth ‘no, acquisition cost, whatever, you’re willing to reissue ‘no the SALNs?

ASEC. ABLAN: Yes, yes. That will be disclosed. Also, in the meeting yesterday, it was — it was found out that the Civil Service is actually calling a technical working group this October and will be reviewing the SALN guidelines and may also include the revision of the SALN form itself on whether or not to include the names of the minor children, if there are no business interest at all.

Remember that in the SALN law, the only reason why you have to declare the names of the children is if they have any business interest. If there are none, then there — there might not be a need to disclose.

Also, as mentioned already by Deputy Commissioner Patdu and Spokesman Abella, there are several occasions wherein the affiants or the declarants do declare more than they need to.

There are… There are several SALNs not only of Cabinet Members, but also of lower rank officials that show the bank account number, the plate number, which need not be already in the SALN form.

We have expressed our concern with the Civil Service Commission and they may put a guideline or a warning in the new SALN form saying that they do not need to put the bank account number and the plate number of their motor vehicles because there’s no need for those information.

That actually is the source of the issue of the Malacañang Records Office and other SALN repository agencies. What to do with that information if volunteered by the declarants and so those… Those are the things that were discussed yesterday.

No commitments, no decisions made, but at least the different SALN repository agencies knew what the other agency was actually redacting and surprising that majority of them do redact the home address and the minor children.

So next time the journalist or any public — the public would request for the SALN of officials, we will — we will follow the practice of redacting the home address as well as the names of the unmarried minor children.

Mr. Romero: Asec, may we just know who was the — or who were behind the redaction of the acquisition costs of personal and real properties of the officials?

Asec. Ablan: On — on what is this?

Mr. Romero: Because there’s a report stating that some of the SALNs of officials — ‘yung mga information about acquisition costs of real and personal properties were redacted.

ASEC. ABLAN: Yes.

Mr. Romero: May we know who are behind the — those redactions?

ASEC. ABLAN: It… It’s possibly the — one of the SALN repository agencies. There are seven — there are seven repository SALN agencies. The Civil Service, the Ombudsman, the Office of the President, the Court Administrator, the Clerk of the Supreme Court, the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Mr. Romero: The report was citing the SALN of Cabinet officials. So who’s the repository of Cabinet…

ASEC. ABLAN: The… That’s the Malacañang Records Office. But you have… You have to understand, as we are implementing the Freedom of Information, we are also implementing the Data Privacy Act. And the whole implementation of the FOI program is a learning process.

As I mentioned in previous occasions, the implementation of FOI in the US took five years. The implementation of FOI in Croatia took ten years. And the President told us to implement FOI in a 120 days.

So there will be some challenges along the way. The agencies who have mentioned that there are concerns in the disclosing of the SALN and other documents such as the personal data sheet, we actually sought advisory from the National Privacy Commission.

We asked for clarification from the National Privacy Commission in terms of their personal data sheet and they did issue Advisory No. 2017-2.

We likewise asked the National Privacy Commission to guide us on the appreciation of the SALN form and they have yet to respond. As already mentioned by Deputy Commissioner Patdu, they will issue a guidance later on this year, but also would have to defer to the decision of the Civil Service.

Mr. Romero: So it’s not — sorry. It’s not the official them — it’s not the officials themselves who sought the redactions?

ASEC. ABLAN: I don’t think so. No.

Mr. Romero: Ah, okay. Thank you, Asec.

Mr. Ganibe: Usec, magandang tanghali. A statement lang from Palace regarding doon sa shooting incident sa PSG Compound? Would the Palace express concern dahil ‘yung shooting incident nangyari mismo sa Presidential Security Group Compound kung nasaan naroon ang bahay na tinitirahan ng Pangulo? Hindi ba nakakabahala may nangyaring ganito sa loob mismo ng — ?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: It’s being… It’s being investigated and the — the nature of the situation needs to be clarified. Let that be sufficient at this stage.

Mr. Ganibe: Hindi ba na…

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Come again?

Mr. Ganibe: Any concern from the…

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Come again?

Mr. Ganibe: Any statement of concern from the Presidential Spokesperson with this incident happened inside the PSG Compound?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Of course, it’s a matter of concern. However, we need to clarify what exactly it was all about. It — we don’t know the exact nature of the — of the incident. So we need to be able to find out exactly what it was.

Mr. Ganibe: Where is the President when the shooting incident happened this morning?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I can’t — I haven’t clarified. We don’t have any information regarding that.

Mr. Ganibe: Pero nandito na siya sa Manila ngayon, sir, today?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I need to clarify that.

Mr. Ganibe: Thank you.

—END—

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