NPC draws line between invoking data privacy law and obeying gov’t subpoena

Maris Federez   •   October 27, 2021   •   250

MANILA, Philippines — The National Privacy Commission (NPC) has clarified that no one must use the Republic Act 10173 or the Data Privacy Act of 2012 as an excuse to withhold information in legal proceedings.

The NPC made the clarification amid the ongoing Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on the alleged anomalous government transaction with Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation.

In a statement, NPC Commissioner Raymond Liboro said that the law does not prohibit anyone to release personal information in compliance with a subpoena issued by any government investigating body.

“We would like to reiterate that the Data Privacy Act of 2012 (DPA) 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 said.

The statement added that while the NPC aims to protect a person’s data privacy rights, there are provisions in the law that recognizes the processing of personal information when used in legal proceedings.

“While we advocate for the protection of the right to data privacy of data subjects, there are provisions in the law that recognizes the processing of personal information when necessary for compliance with a legal obligation or to fulfill functions of public authorities,” he said.

Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chairman Richard Gordon noted the NPC’s clarification on the matter.

“Liboro’s initiative and insights are greatly appreciated by the Blue Ribbon Committee and, if I may speak for the whole, by the Senate,” Gordons said.

It can be recalled that the Blue Ribbon cited Pharmally executives Mohit and Twinkle Dargani for contempt for not allowing the release of sourced documents to the committee. The Senate panel subsequently ordered the detention of the two.

The Dargani siblings had invoked the Data Privacy Law, as well as the Bank Secrecy Code and the Revised Corporation Code of the Philippines on why they cannot provide the Senate committee with the company’s financial documents. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

Dargani, Ong to be transferred to Pasay City Jail

Maris Federez   •   November 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Vicente Sotto III has signed the commitment order for the transfer of Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation director Linconn Ong and corporate secretary and treasurer Mohit Dargani to the Pasay City Jail.

The order states that the two executives will be placed under the custody of the Pasay City Jail until they answer the questions of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee and submit the documents asked from them by the panel.

At last Friday’s hearing, Dargani said that he no longer has any knowledge on the whereabouts of the boxes containing Pharmally documents since he left for the United States in August. He, however, expressed his willingness to search for the said documents.

Ong and Pharmally’s former Regulatory Affairs Head Krizle Mago also denied knowledge about the said boxes.

“We don’t know where the boxes are, precisely because our house boxes, office boxes, everything is mixed. I want to go back and see what’s happening also,” Dargani said.

However, Senate Sergeant At Arms chief Retired Major General Rene Samonte, in a text message, reported to Blue Ribbon Committee chairperson Richard Gordon that his team was not able to launch the search for the boxes due to Dargani’s refusal to give the needed information.

“Hindi nakaalis kasi ayaw magbigay ng info kung saan pupunta, hindi daw nya alam kung nasaan — office or warehouse or residence. He was told that they can go to all three, pero ayaw pa din,” Samonte’s text message read.

He added that Mohit claimed not knowing whether the said boxes are at the Pharmally head office, in a warehouse, or at their residence.

Samonte also said that Dargani pointed to one of Pharmally’s legal counsel, Attorney Don Kapunan, as the one who knows about the documents.

The Senate official added that he had the Pharmally counsel called up and made the query, in which the lawyer denied any knowledge about the said boxes of documents.

“Ang sabi ni Mohit ay alam daw ni Atty. Kapunan, kaya pinatawagan ko. Muntik na daw mahulog ang lawyer sa upuan, kasi wala daw kaalam alam si Atty. Kapunan kung ano man ang mga documents na yun,” Samonte’s message further read.

“It seems wala talagang boxes and boxes of documents, or ayaw ilabas kung meron man. I recommend ituloy na ang transfer order asap. I will see and talk to them pag may commitment order na to Pasay City Jail,” it continued.

Mohit’s sister, Pharmally president Twinkle Dargani, on the other hand, will stay under the Senate’s custody. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

Michael Yang petition before SC, a desperate move — Gordon

Maris Federez   •   November 26, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines — Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chairperson Richard Gordon believes that the decision of former presidential economic adviser, Michael Yang to file a petition before the Supreme Court is a desperate move following the arrest of some officials of Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation.

In a statement released Friday (November 26), Gordon said Yang had been caught lying several times in front of the lawmakers in the committee hearings, and that he is now afraid to go out after the arrest of Pharmally executives Linconn Ong, Mohit Dargani, and Twinkle Dargani.

“Maraming beses nang nagsinungaling si Michael Yang sa Senado. Lumalabas na siya’y takot ngayon lumabas ng kanyang tahanan matapos mahuli ang mga kasamahan sa negosyong sina Linconn Ong, at magkapatid na Mojit at Twinkle Dargani,” Gordon said.

The senator also said that Yang’s move is out of desperation to circumvent Blue Ribbon’s investigation on the questionable government procurement of medical supplies from Pharmally.

“Ang pagsampa niya ng kaso sa Korte Suprema ay bahagi ng desperadong tangkang pagpapa-ikot sa Senate Blue Ribbon Committee sa isinasagawa nitong imbestigasyon sa katiwaliang naganap sa gitna ng pandemya,” he said.

Gordon insists that the Blue Ribbon only defends the rights of Filipinos which weigh far greater than the privilege enjoyed by foreigners who live in lies.

“Ipinagtatanggol ng Komite ang karapatan ng mga taumbayan, na higit mas matimbang kaysa sa pribilehiyo ng isang banyagang nabubuhay sa kasinungalingan,” Gordon said.

Yang’s lawyer, Atty. Raymond Fortun earlier said his client will attend the Blue Ribbon Committee’s 15th hearing on the Pharmally issue.

However, Fortun said that Yang wasn’t able to attend the hearing due to an illness. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

Cyberattack on S&R compromised 22,000 data subjects – NPC

Robie de Guzman   •   November 25, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The National Privacy Commission (NPC) reported that some 22,000 data subjects were affected in the ransomware attack on S&R Membership Shopping.

In a statement, the NPC said it has received an initial breach notification report on November 15, 2021, 4:47 PM, from S&R Membership Shopping in relation to a cyber-attack that may have compromised its members’ contact information.

The NPC said the firm discovered the cyberattack incident on November 14, 2021.

“The company has then submitted an supplemental breach report today, November 24, 2021, confirming that the subject of the ransomware attack was the S&R membership system affecting twenty-two thousand (22,000) data subjects,” the commission said.

Citing the company’s report, the NPC said the attack compromised S&R’s personal data such as date of birth, contact number, and gender.

“Based on the S&R’s disclosure and confirmation from their data protection officer (DPO), credit cards and other financial information were not among the compromised personal data,” the agency said.

“They informed the Commission that they instituted measures to secure their system, recover compromised data, prevent further disclosure, and recurrence of similar attacks,” it added.

The company earlier said that its team has implemented cybersecurity protocols that enabled them to resume system operations. It also assured that the data affected in the attack were only confined to contact information and its members’ financial data are safe as these are protected by encryption measures as required by regulation.

The NPC reminded the S&R of its obligation to fully disclose and individually notify the affected data subject.

The commission likewise directed them to provide the technical report of the incident from the third-party cyber security firm.

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