National Privacy Commission summons Baguio college for mandatory pregnancy test policy

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 9)— Pines City Colleges -- the controversial Baguio school that made headlines for its mandatory pregnancy test -- is under investigation at the National Privacy Commission (NPC).

In a four page letter dated Tuesday and furnished to the press, the NPC summoned the school to a hearing at the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Field Office in Baguio City on November 14.

The letter sent by Complaints and Investigations Division Chief Atty. Francis Euston Acero to Pines City Colleges said the school would have to explain two things:

  • Why the processing of personal information of students meets obligations of transparency, legitimate purpose, and proportionality; and
  • Why the collection of personal information meets conditions set by privacy and protection laws.

"It appears that the records of Pines City Colleges do not appear in our database of registered personal information controllers, which indicates that you do not have a data protection officer registered with the Commission," the letter read.

It said that the processing of sensitive personal information like health and sexual history was prohibited -- unless it met one out of six specific conditions.

The exemptions included instances where the subject provided consent, which should not be required by regulations. The other exemptions said processing the information must be necessary to protect the life and health of the subject; necessary for medical treatment; necessary for lawful and noncommercial objectives; and necessary for the protection of lawful rights or interests in court proceedings.

"The failure to meet these conditions or the failure to adhere by fundamental data privacy principles may result in civil, administrative, and criminal liability," the letter warned.

Pines City College stuck to its policy in a statement on November 6, after a photo of a detailing the required pregnancy test went viral.

However, the Commission on Human Rights has since said it would investigate the policy. Under the Magna Carta of Women, the commission acts as Gender Ombud.

Women's rights advocates slammed the mandatory pregnancy test policy for violation of the law, which maintains that female students and faculty cannot be expelled due to pregnancy out of wedlock.

Under the school's policy, students who don't disclose their pregnancy face expulsion.

They must also drop classes if pregnant, and prove any terminated pregnancies were not caused by abortion.

The Commission on Higher Education has yet to release a statement on the issue.

CNN Philippines Correspondent Triciah Terada contributed to this report.