BIZ BUZZ: NPC readies charges vs PhilHealth officials for data leak
The government’s data privacy watchdog has apparently seen merit in sanctioning the highest officials of Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) for the data leak back in October that involved over 180 million records of personal data of its members.
A copy of a yet-to-be-released public report from the National Privacy Commission seen by Biz Buzz showed that the government agency’s complaints and investigation division had recommended charges against PhilHealth’s executive committee.
This includes the president and CEO of the state insurer, as well as the chief operating officer, chief information officer, data protection officer, corporation information security department, and the information technology management department.
The NPC unit cited their supposed failure to protect sensitive personal information of millions of PhilHealth members and employees.
These officials, according to the NPC report, violated Sections 20, 21(a), 22, and 26 of the Data Privacy Act (DPA), adding that it is now seeking accountability for these violations and the need for corrective measures to strengthen data security within the state insurer.
The NPC report also said that under Section 26(a) of the DPA, those found guilty of providing access to personal information due to negligence will face penalties that include imprisonment of one to three years and a fine ranging from P500,000 to P2 million.
Moreover, those found to be providing access to sensitive personal information due to negligence may result in a three to six year imprisonment and a fine ranging from P500,000 to P4 million, added the NPC report. —Alden M. Monzon
All eyes on El Niño
One of the biggest problems that the Philippines will face next year is the El Niño phenomenon, along with the attendant threats of external price and supply shocks.
Given this scenario, Agriculture Secretary Francisco Laurel Jr. rallied the Department of Agriculture (DA) staff to be extra vigilant to head off these threats to food security.
“We have a big mission next year—a very big mission. The entire Philippines is watching us,” Laurel said.
“And because the country’s attention is focused on us, we have to perform well. Let’s perform and prove our critics wrong,” he told DA employees.
Earlier, the Department of Science and Technology warned of a strong El Niño event that could affect 65 of the 81 provinces by May.
It also flagged the possibility of moderate to severe drought, a condition where rainfall is below normal for three consecutive months, affecting those areas thus pulling down crop production.
Laurel, who assumed the top DA post in November, reiterated the agency’s commitment to raise agricultural output and lower the cost of producing food.
The DA said it had started to implement initiatives to deal with the adverse effects of the expected drought.
These include strengthening irrigation facilities, adopting alternative rice planting methods that require less water, animal dispersal and providing alternative livelihood to farmers and fishers. —Jordeene B. Lagare
Filinvest invests in Dumaguete
Gotianun-led Filinvest Land, one of the country’s biggest property developers, is going beyond investments in Dumaguete City, where its 1.9-hectare integrated township is rising.
Around 1,800 Dumaguete City students are testament to this after the the builder provided a state-of-the-art filtration system that ensures clean drinking water at the South City Elementary School (SCES) in Barangay Mangnao, Dumaguete City.
John Paul Escario, Filinvest Land area manager for Visayas, said the water system was thanks to the “collaborative efforts” between the company and Barangay Mangnao “as we engage the community to address critical needs.”
“This timely donation stands as a beacon of hope for our local learners as we ensure access to clean and safe drinking water for SCES,” he said. — Miguel R. Camus