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Palace tells DFA, PCOO to explain passport data mess


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Malacañang will be asking some government agencies and a private firm to explain  the data breach controversy hounding the passport renewal system of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said Monday his office will be sending letters to the DFA, Presidential Communications Operations Office, which supervises the printing firm APO Production Unit Inc., and the United Graphic Expression Corporation (UGEC).

Panelo made the statement after former Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay said the previous contractor, Francois-Charles Oberthur Fiduciare, could not have stolen the data because Oberthur had already finished its contractual obligations when APO and UGEC came in during the Aquino administration.

It was DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. himself who revealed last week that a previously outsourced passport maker took off with all the applicants' data when its contract with the government was terminated.

"Right now it appears that somebody is claiming that a foreign company was contracted, a foreign company did this and did that. Puro nga claim eh. I haven't seen the documents. They have to show me documents that will validate what they're saying. Until such time mahirap mag-komentaryo," Panelo, who is also the presidential spokesperson, said at a news conference.

Panelo said his office will conduct its own probe as soon as they receive the documents from the entities concerned.

"We will make a definitive conclusion or findings once those documents are submitted to us," he said, adding the government can demand return of passport data if allegations of theft are true.

The National Privacy Commission is already looking into the issue.

Panelo also assured the public that the government will not allow delay in the issuance of passports or stringent requirements "that will burden our people" following the DFA's pronouncement that applicants for passport renewal should submit original copies of their birth certificate as a result of the data loss.

“Applicants should not be burdened by submitting original copies of their certificates of live birth, obtaining which requires another application process before the Philippine Statistics Authority, to renew their passports just because the producer lost their relevant data,” Panelo said in a separate statement.

Panelo said the submission of the old or current passport which the applicant seeks to renew “should suffice for the purpose.” 


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Courtesy of By VIRGIL LOPEZ, GMA News

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