Privacy Commission issues guidelines on evaluating requests for personal data of public officers including SALN

The National Privacy Commission (NPC) has issued guidelines on evaluating
requests for personal data about public officers. NPC Advisory No. 2022-01 states that
any disclosure of personal data shall observe the general privacy principles of
transparency, legitimate purpose, and proportionality. Additionally, every government
agency must be responsible for personal data under its control or custody.

The personal data of public officers, including individuals who are or were
performing service under contract for the government, may be disclosed if the requested
information is a matter of public concern or interest, provided that the information is
relevant to the subject matter of the request, and disclosure is not otherwise prohibited
by any law or regulation. Privacy Commissioner John Henry D. Naga emphasized that
the Advisory “aims to strike a balance between the right of the people to information on
matters of public concern and the right to privacy of an individual.”

“Thus, the Advisory recognizes the Filipino people’s right to information and the
necessity of an open and transparent government, while also giving due consideration
and respect to the dignity, safety, and human rights of public officers,” Naga added.

On approving requests

Under Section 7 of the Advisory, requests for information about public officers
and individuals performing service under contract for the government must have a clear,
specific, and legitimate purpose that does not contradict laws, morals, or public policy.

When evaluating requests, the government agency shall determine whether the
information requested is a matter of public concern and whether there is a public purpose
to be served that may outweigh the rights and freedoms of the public officer as a data
subject. The requested information or document may be granted or denied upon the
evaluation of the government agency considering the aforesaid elements. Further, access
or disclosure of the requested information must not exceed the specified purpose
declared by the requestor.

If the requested document or information is denied and deemed not of public
concern, the requestor must be informed within a reasonable time accompanied by a

The public officer whose information is being requested shall also be informed of
the existence of the request and the action taken by the concerned government agency.

The government agency may likewise determine whether particular sensitive
personal information is irrelevant or unnecessary to the fulfillment of the purpose of the
requesting party which should be redacted to protect the dignity, safety and security of
the public officer. Some of these information may include: a) Home address of the
declarant; b) Details of any unmarried children below eighteen (18) years of age living in
declarant’s household, if any, particularly their names, dates of birth, and ages; c)
Signatures of the declarant and co-declarant; and d) Government-issued ID numbers of
the declarant and co-declarant.

Information allowed to be disclosed

Deputy Privacy Commissioner Leandro Angelo Aguirre said that the guidelines
emphasize that data privacy and freedom of information coexist and must be mutually

“We hope that this Circular addresses some misconceptions that data privacy and
the freedom of information are in conflict with each other. A key mandate of the National
Privacy Commission is to ensure the free flow of information. The work of the NPC is to
ensure that the access to and disclosure of the personal data of public officers is not
curtailed but rather done in a manner that is consistent with what the law requires and
respects their rights and freedoms as data subjects,” Aguirre said.

Information about public officers and individuals performing service under
contract for the government that may be disclosed are the following: 1) the fact that the
individual is or was an officer or employee of, or performed service/s under contract for,
a government institution; 2) the title, business address, and office telephone number of
the individual; 3) the classification, salary range, and responsibilities of the position held
by the individual; 4) the name of the individual on a document prepared by the
individual in the course of employment or contract with the government; and 5) other
circumstances similar to the foregoing.

Documents (e.g., Personal Data Sheet or PDS, Statement of Assets, Liabilities and
Net Worth or SALN) that contain sensitive personal information of the concerned public
officer, or his or her family, may be granted if there is a declared, specified, and lawful

Read the NPC advisory in full here: