THE DATA PRIVACY ACT “is not meant to serve as a subterfuge to prevent the processing and/or disclosure of personal information sanctioned under law.” This, according to Chairman Raymund E. Liboro of the National Privacy Commission (NPC) is a core principle that should inform the discourse on the right to information of citizens to get true and detailed asset records or Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) of public officials and employees.
A CHIEF JUSTICE was impeached in 2012 for failure to declare the true and detailed list of condo units he owned, and pesos and dollars he had in banks. Ten years prior, a President was forced out of the Palace for collecting millions in kickbacks and commissions from state contracts and excise taxes, as well as for building scandalously opulent mansions for his mistresses. He, too, kept hidden the facts of his wealth, and would be exposed later to have used a fake name to open a fat bank account.
MORE THAN a year after President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed the Freedom of Information executive order, a practice completely reverse of the policy has been creeping onto some documents requested by the public. The likely tool for the unexpected move: a black marker. Redactions on items declared by Cabinet officials in their Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) released by the Malacañang Records Office have recently been noted by media outfits requesting these as material for stories.
TO REDACT or not to redact. Which could avoid or attract scrutiny and censure? Redactions are not the only issue that could arise if public officials would shade or black out the true, detailed, and complete facts of their wealth.