Yasay: Locsin 'misinformed' on passport data breach
Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said he does not believe a contractor would have ran away with personal data of passport holders.
Philstar.com, File

Yasay: Locsin 'misinformed' on passport data breach

Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - January 14, 2019 - 11:14am

MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. appears to have been misinformed on his claim that a contractor stole the personal data of passport holders, former Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said.

Yasay said Locsin's statement that a contractor, whom he identified as French firm Francois-Charles Oberthur Fiduciare, ran away with data was "completely false and malicious."

"The only reason, compelling reason I can see is because they wanted to deflect the real issue of the passport mess, which is awarding, the production of the passport from an end-to-end basis," Yasay told ANC's "Headstart".

The former DFA chief pointed out that Oberthur's contract was over when he took office in June 2016 but the French firm continued tp assist the Philippine government for free until 2014. This was under the term of former President Benigno Aquino III.

Yasay further explained that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas recommended to subcontract the personalization of passports to Oberthur in 2006 but the system was placed in 2009.

In 2015, the DFA awarded the production of the new passport system to APO Production Unit, a company under the Presidential Communications Operations Office.

APO then contracted United Graphic Expression Corporation for the production of the new passports, which Yasay claimed was illegal because there was no bidding.

"All of these have been inherited by me in 2016 so I told the president I am taking action about this and I will talk to the BSP and I will talk to the UGEC and I will talk to APO and see how could we remedy the situation," Yasay said.

Yasay reaclled his dilemma when he was supposed to approve the full implementation of the new passport system.

"I cannot approve it. If I disapprove it, however, beacuse it was illegally subcontracted then I can be held responsbible for the complicated problem that will result... On the other hand, if I just hoodwink the whole thing I could be accused of complicity of what is illegal," he said.

Yasay links passport data issue to rejection at CA

Asked why the contract with UGEC was sustained despite being illegal, Yasay claimed "some powerful members" of Congress intervened on the matter.

These members of Congress, who are also members of the Commission on Appointments, insisted that there was nothing wrong with the contract, according to Yasay.

"I said there was something terribly wrong with the contract, in fact, because APO and UGEC refused to be bound or sign the amended [memorandum of agreement] that I prepared, I canceled the contract," Yasay said in the television interview.

After canceling the contract, Yasay went to the BSP to direct them to restire the printing of the new passports, which the latter supposedly refused to do.

"When I went back to BSP, BSP said no and after that my confirmation came in and I was not confirmed," the former DFA chief said.

On March 8, 2017, the CA voted to reject the ad interim appointment of Yasay due to his failure to disclose the status of his citizenship.

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: January 15, 2019 - 6:00pm

The National Privacy Commission says it will conduct an investigation on the Department of Foreign Affairs' assertion that a former contractor has taken "all the data." 

"Any form of non-availability of personal data, infringement of the rights of data subjects, and harms from processing that include inconveniencing the public, must be adequately explained to the satisfaction of the law," the NPC says.

"We will summon the DFA and concerned agencies including the alleged contractor to determine the facts surrounding the case," it adds.

January 15, 2019 - 6:00pm

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin Jr. says the Department of Foreign Affairs is for now taking the word of APO Production Unit that there is no breach in passport data which he says is sufficient justification in removing the birth certificate requirement in the renewal of passports.

In a statement sent to media, Locsin says only a Senate investigation will assure the public that there was no breach or loss of data. Until then, DFA can give no assurances on the safety and security of some data.

January 14, 2019 - 1:09pm

Sen. Nancy Binay calls for a review by the Office of the Solicitor General of all government contacts with third-party providers in response to issues with passport data disclosed by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. over the weekend.

"We need to step up our standards when it comes to data protection and security lalo na't ang may hawak ng data management ay third-party contractors. We need to know which agencies are prone to data hostaging para di na maulit ang nangyari noon sa [Land Transportation Office] at [National Bureau of Investigation] where there was a stoppage of operations, and vital public services were affected," she says in a statement.

In a related statement, the Commisison on Human Rights urges the government to identify accountabilities in the supposed data breach, saying it is important to uphold "the right to privacy in preserving human dignity as stated in various human rights documents, including the 1987 Philippine Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Data Privacy Act of 2012."

It adds the passport data mess "poses grave national security issues, especially since the said data contain sensitive, personal information of Filipino passport holders."

January 14, 2019 - 8:22am

Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. says on ANC's "Hot Copy" that he does not believe the previous sub-contractor for Philippine passports stole passport data.

He says Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. may be misinformed about the supposed data breach.

His predecessor, Albert del Rosario, in a statement, has said he respects Locsin's judgment and declined comment on the issue. He has also expressed confidence that Locsin will resolve the issue soon.

January 13, 2019 - 3:18pm

Vice President Leni Robredo urges the government to take action on the stolen passport data.

Robredo says the incident is scary as she joins the call to file charges against the outsourced passport maker. 

The National Privacy Commission said it would investigate the matter.

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