The Regional Statistics Committee (RSC) VI conducted a webinar on Freedom of Information and Data Privacy Act in coordination with the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) and the National Privacy Commission (NPC) on July 28, 2020.

RSC-VI Chairperson and NEDA-VI Regional Director Ro-Ann A. Bacal opened the activity and highlighted the importance of being properly guided on the legal bases of handling, processing and sharing information. “We have invited competent resource persons from the Presidential Communications Operations Office and the National Privacy Commission that will give clarity on freedom of information protocols, and to provide briefing on the prohibitions and advantages of securing data privacy,” said Director Bacal.

PCOO resource persons Atty. Mae Anne Sandoval and Patricia Marri Maranan discussed the FOI Overview, and the eFOI Portal.

Atty. Mae Ann Sandoval said that the Freedom of Information is the government’s mechanism which allows Filipino citizens to have access to information, official and public records and to documents and papers pertaining to officials’ acts, transactions or decisions, as well as the government research data used as basis for policy development.

Ms. Sandoval reported an increasing trajectory in FOI compliance among agencies from 2016 to 2019, with almost 500 agencies enrolled in the FOI portal. In 2019, national government agencies already reached 100 percent, government-own and controlled corporations at 92 percent, state universities and colleges at 96 percent, and local water districts at 41 percent.

Training  Specialist  Ms. Patricia Marri O. Maranan shared the various capacity development activities of the PCOO which include roadshows, campus caravans, training of trainers, FOI workshops for librarians, FOI compliance consultation workshops and FOI Receiving Officers’ hangout. The said trainings are offered for free upon request.

NPC Chief of Policy Review Division Atty. Vida Zora G. Bocar presented an introduction to the Data Privacy Act of 2012 which is an act protecting an individual personal information in Information and Communications Systems (ICS) in the government and the private sector, and therefore creating the NPC for this purpose.

In closing, PSA RSSO VI OIC Ms. Marlene Y. Alviar expressed her appreciation to the speakers and the near 100 attendees who participated in the webinar. Ms. Alviar is hopeful that data handlers are now better equipped and have better perspective on FOI and data privacy.

Attending the session were representatives of RSC VI member agencies who are in-charge of processing statistics and related information of their agencies; the RSC VI Chairperson and Secretariat to ensure the achievement of the objectives of the committee; the Chief Statistical Specialists of the provincial offices of PSA in Western Visayas; and the member agencies of the National Statistics Month (NSM) Committee. (CPGaitana/NEDA)