Palace on passport mess: Do not pass requirements burden to applicants

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Passport applicants at the DFA

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 14) — The Palace on Monday said those who will renew their Philippine passports should not be saddled by the submission of requirements after the personal data breach.

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

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) earlier said applicants renewing their green and maroon passports are required to bring their birth certificates so the agency can store their information on their database; those with dark brown e-passports are excluded. This new requirement comes after the DFA revealed on Saturday that an outsourced passport maker took government data before it was terminated.

 

Palace said presenting the expiring passport should be enough.

"The submission of the old or current passport which the applicant seeks to renew should suffice for the purpose. The ongoing practice is not only cumbersome to everyone affected but is a form of red tape which this administration frowns upon and will not tolerate," Panelo said.

The spokesperson said the passport data mess is a "grave matter" and should not be taken lightly. The National Privacy Commission (NPC) is set to investigate the matter.

"The investigation should not, however, end here since the current arrangement for the printing of passports should also be examined to determine if there are violations of pertinent laws which may be detrimental to the public," Panelo said.

Malacañang is also investigating the issue. Panelo, who also serves as chief presidential legal counsel, is probing the matter. He said he will write to involved agencies and companies to ask for all documents pertinent to the matter.

He said it remains unclear for now if personal data were really stolen or not. He added even the passport maker,which allegedly ran off with information, has yet to be clearly identified.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Sunday raised alarm on the passport mess, considering personal data of Filipinos are exposed.

"These are personal information such as full name, date and place of birth, and other information that could be used illegally. We will get in touch with the DFA to find out the details of this issue and how to mitigate its ill effect," he said in a statement.