Worried police have profiled you? IBP has guidance on what to do

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Worried police have profiled you? IBP has guidance on what to do
Residents collect free food packets from a food bank run by volunteers called a "community pantry" along a road in Quezon City suburban Manila on April 21, 2021.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — Fear of possible police profiling of her and her family forced the organizer of a community pantry in Pandacan, Manila to fold the table she put up to give food to their community.

In a Facebook post, organizer Marikit Arellano said they filled out a form that the police gave them on Monday, a day before Manila Mayor Isko Moreno announced that community pantries may be put up in the capital.

"We were scared of what they might do if we refused to fill it up...We fear for our personal security because of what happened,” she said in Filipino.

The National Privacy Commission on Wednesday morning called for a stop to what it said was the unwarranted profiling of community pantry organizers whom they also hailed as “heroes” of the pandemic by helping families put food on their tables.

READ: What to do if law enforcers visit your community pantry? Diokno offers tips

If you police have asked for your personal data and you fear that you have been profiled, Integrated Bar of the Philippines President Domingo Egon Cayosa gives guidance on what you could do.

Seek assistance

Cayosa said people can request assistance from the National Privacy Commission, adding also that he hopes more people know that "they need not answer, they need not give those details even to police if there is no legal basis."

Earlier this week, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said community pantry organizers have no obligation to fill out any forms since what they have put up is not a business.

Guevarra said Monday that interrogating community pantry organizers is improper unless there is reason to believe that they violated a law, ordinance, rule or regulation.

Ask police to delete your data

Cayosa stressed that Filipinos have the basic constitutional right to privacy, which goes beyond privacy "in our houses, in our offices but also privacy to the information, personal information."

"And nobody has the right to demand that of us unless there’s clear legal basis. In this particular case, the PNP has yet to provide the clear legal basis. Is there a court order? Was there a crime committed?" he added.

If people fear that police took their personal information without sound legal basis, they can ask cops to erase it.

"Secondly, they can, if there was no legal basis for those personal details and information that was taken by the police officers, they can request that this data be deleted."

File a complaint

But the IBP president also urged those who can to file appropriate complaints against those who conduct unwarranted profiling to curb the practice.

"Thirdly, they can, and it should be encouraged, to stop this, they can take legal action against the police officers," he said.

Cayosa explained that the violation of the Data Privacy Act carries a penal sanction.

There is also a potential "violation of the Constitutional right of citizens and that’s punishable or will be liable for damages under the human relations provisions of the Civil Code. And thirdly, they can be administratively liable under the [Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act]," he added.

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