The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Friday clarified that its directive for barangays to prepare inventory of unvaccinated individuals is not a “witch-hunt” contrary to the statement made by Makabayan Bloc’s France Castro.
DILG Undersecretary and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya disclosed that the agency also assured the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) that the program will never violate the individual’s right to privacy.
“To call the President’s directive as well as the ordinances passed by the local government units (LGU) as a witch-hunt is completely irresponsible and uncalled for,” Malaya said.
“We are facing an unprecedented global health emergency and we need to protect the unvaccinated. Again, the purpose of the inventory is to protect the unvaccinated from getting sick and dying as well as to protect our health care system from being overwhelmed. How is that a witch hunt?” he added.
Malaya also stressed that it is neither unconstitutional nor violative of a person’s right to privacy because the data of unvaccinated persons is being collected for a legitimate purpose, which is to address the latest wave of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) infections under Alert Level 3.
To recall, Castro said that the DILG’s recent directive is unconstitutional and violative of a person’s right to privacy.
However, Malaya clarified that the policy is within the bounds of Republic Act 10173 or the “Data Privacy Act of 2012” and RA 11332 or the “Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.”
“You need to weigh a person’s rights and his or her responsibility to society. Castro should not be so swift in shooting down the efforts of the national and local governments and calling them unconstitutional or unlawful without knowing the rationale behind the policy,” said Malaya.
The DILG spokesperson also assured the CHR that the inventory will not be published or released to the public and will only serve as a reference by the barangays in implementing the ordinances passed by LGU.
Malaya said that RA 11332 is related to RA 10173 which allows the processing of personal information for a legitimate purpose.
Section 7 of RA 11332 provides that the President shall declare a State of Public Health Emergency in the event of an epidemic of national and/or international concern which threatens national security in order to mobilize governmental and non-governmental agencies to respond to the threat.
Malaya also said that the ongoing status of state of calamity in the country is related to Section 12 (e) of Data Privacy Act that provides one of the conditions when it is permitted to process personal information, which is when it is “necessary in order to respond to national emergency, to comply with the requirements of public order and safety, or to fulfill functions of public authority which necessarily includes the processing of personal data for the fulfillment of its mandate.”
“In this regard, the data identifying unvaccinated individuals is needed by the State to properly implement the quarantine protocol needed to protect the unvaccinated as well as to protect the health system from being overwhelmed,” Malaya said.
He also noted that the Supreme Court has also laid down in jurisprudence that Section 15 of Article II of the Constitution which says that “the State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them” is self-executing and judicially enforceable even in its present form.