Data Privacy Act suspension sought

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    Raymund Liboro, NPC Commissioner. (Photo from techsauceph.com)

    Business groups are seeking the suspension of the implementation of the Data Privacy Act (DPA) in doing a reverse contract tracing of cases of the new coronavirus disease 2019.

    The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), Employers Confederation of the Philippines, Philippine Silkroad International Chamber of Commerce and the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. in a joint letter to the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, are also seeking for more modes of public transportation and to increase the capacities of public utility vehicles (PUVs) so workers of businesses can go back to work.

    PCCI president Benedicto Yujuico in a press conference announcing the Philippine Business Conference stressed the need for government to address issues on red tape, lengthy licensing procedures and overregulation to help the country recover from the health crisis.

    Sergio Ortiz-Luis, chairman of PCCI, said that during the last meeting of the IATF, the group raised the idea of publishing COVID-positive cases in each barangay so they can come out in the open and be isolated in quarantine facilities.

    Ortiz-Luis said instead of spending on contract tracing, IATF can look at the idea of reversing it and channeling the funds to decent quarantine facilities where people can be safely tested and cured.

    “When you publish the names, there is no need to trace because people will come out in the open knowing they have been exposed,” Ortiz-Luis said.

    The business groups said in their letter the government can suspend the DPA in the context of this health emergency, so “we may not have to use the full P5 billion budget allocated for contact tracers.”

    “Instead, we can start with even P1 billion to build or repurpose existing schools or other buildings in strategic barangays in the National Capital Region …into decent comfortable quarantine facilities.”

    He also questioned the requirement of wearing face shields in the workplace which is not only uncomfortable but is also beyond logic.

    He said the PCCI has received a lot of complaints from manufacturers such as electronics companies which have to handle minute parts and construction firms that face shields are a hindrance in their work and can cause accidents.

    The business groups in their letter to the IATF also sought for the relaxation of the rules for other non-essential sectors including non- contact sports activities.

    One good example of these are golf clubs which they said are very, very low risk, considering that games are played in open spaces.

    Yujuico said the country needs to increase the modes of transport and allow PUVs to operate to at least 80 percent of capacity to enable the economy to efficiently bounce back and sustainably recover.