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APD | Philippine passport applicants required to present birth certificates

Lifestyle2019-01-13

By APD writer Melo M. AcunaMANILA, Jan. 13 (APD) – Applicants for Philippine passports have been required to present authenticated birth certificates issued by the Philippine Statistics Authority after it was discovered that a previous contractor ran off with the data.Passport applicants have been complaining on social media why they are still required to submit authenticated birth certificates from PSA despite the fact they already have submitted the same some five years ago.No less than Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. admitted in his Tweet that a passport production contractor for the government “made off with data.”Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. (right) in a press briefing last Thursday, January 10. /Melo Acuna photoThe Department of Foreign Affairs will have to “rebuild” its database for passports issued before 2010 because a “previous outsourced passport maker took all the data when contract terminated,” the foreign secretary said in a Tweet last Wednesday. It was learned applicants renewing brown or green passports or maroon machine-readable passports are now required to submit birth certificates because the DFA needs to capture and store the documents in their database.“We no longer have the physical copy of the document submitted when they first applied,” said DFA Assistant Secretary Elmer G. Cato in a Tweet.He told media outlets that passports issued after 2009 need not submit their birth certificates as the digital copy of the said document have already been captured and stored in their database.The DFA revealed the data loss after a netizen asked Foreign Secretary Locsin about the requirement to submit his birth certificate just to renew his travel document.“Because previous contractor got pissed when terminated it made off with data,” he added in a separate post.He said the agency “did nothing about it or couldn’t because we were in the wrong.”“What I heard, and there are so many stories in the affected department – they sued us for wrongful termination,” Locsin said.He added passports “pose national security issues and cannot be kept back by private entities. Data belongs to the state.”He, however, did not name the French firm nor the department involved in the incident and he issued no further comment.Incidentally, National Privacy Commissioner Raymund E. Liboro said his office will conduct its own investigation on the Department of Foreign Affairs assertion that a private contractor caused the non-availability of Filipino passport data and other documents entrusted to it for processing.“Any form of non-availability of personal data, infringement of the rights of data subjects, and harms from processing that include inconveniencing the public, must be adequately explained to the satisfaction of the law,” Liboro said in a statement.He added they will call on the DFA and concerned agencies including the alleged contractor to determine the facts surrounding the case. “Rest assured the NOC will continue to champion the rights of Filipino data subjects,” Chairman Liboro concluded.  Government sources said there is an average of over 5,000 Filipinos leaving the country daily for overseas employment.  Former Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales in file Photo. /Melo M. AcunaFormer National Security Adviser and National Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales said any breach in data security should be a serious concern for the government.“Passport applications contain personal data and should be protected at all costs,” he added.  He said he is wondering why the government has not asked the still unidentified private contractor to provide the Department of Foreign Affairs a back-up file.   (ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)

By APD writer Melo M. Acuna

MANILA, Jan. 13 (APD) – Applicants for Philippine passports have been required to present authenticated birth certificates issued by the Philippine Statistics Authority after it was discovered that a previous contractor ran off with the data.

Passport applicants have been complaining on social media why they are still required to submit authenticated birth certificates from PSA despite the fact they already have submitted the same some five years ago.

No less than Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. admitted in his Tweet that a passport production contractor for the government “made off with data.”

微信图片_20190113115253.jpg

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. (right) in a press briefing last Thursday, January 10. /Melo Acuna photo

The Department of Foreign Affairs will have to “rebuild” its database for passports issued before 2010 because a “previous outsourced passport maker took all the data when contract terminated,” the foreign secretary said in a Tweet last Wednesday. 

It was learned applicants renewing brown or green passports or maroon machine-readable passports are now required to submit birth certificates because the DFA needs to capture and store the documents in their database.

“We no longer have the physical copy of the document submitted when they first applied,” said DFA Assistant Secretary Elmer G. Cato in a Tweet.

He told media outlets that passports issued after 2009 need not submit their birth certificates as the digital copy of the said document have already been captured and stored in their database.

The DFA revealed the data loss after a netizen asked Foreign Secretary Locsin about the requirement to submit his birth certificate just to renew his travel document.

“Because previous contractor got pissed when terminated it made off with data,” he added in a separate post.

He said the agency “did nothing about it or couldn’t because we were in the wrong.”

“What I heard, and there are so many stories in the affected department – they sued us for wrongful termination,” Locsin said.

He added passports “pose national security issues and cannot be kept back by private entities. Data belongs to the state.”

He, however, did not name the French firm nor the department involved in the incident and he issued no further comment.

Incidentally, National Privacy Commissioner Raymund E. Liboro said his office will conduct its own investigation on the Department of Foreign Affairs assertion that a private contractor caused the non-availability of Filipino passport data and other documents entrusted to it for processing.

“Any form of non-availability of personal data, infringement of the rights of data subjects, and harms from processing that include inconveniencing the public, must be adequately explained to the satisfaction of the law,” Liboro said in a statement.

He added they will call on the DFA and concerned agencies including the alleged contractor to determine the facts surrounding the case. 

“Rest assured the NOC will continue to champion the rights of Filipino data subjects,” Chairman Liboro concluded.  

Government sources said there is an average of over 5,000 Filipinos leaving the country daily for overseas employment.  

微信图片_20190113115511.jpg

Former Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales in file Photo. /Melo M. Acuna

Former National Security Adviser and National Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales said any breach in data security should be a serious concern for the government.

“Passport applications contain personal data and should be protected at all costs,” he added.  He said he is wondering why the government has not asked the still unidentified private contractor to provide the Department of Foreign Affairs a back-up file.   

(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)

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