In Baguio, COVID-19 patients sue radio station, netizens for disclosing info

A local radio station and 14 Facebook users were sued for disclosing private information of COVID-19 patients in Baguio, Mayor Benjamin Magalong said.

Magalong said a joint complaint-affidavit was filed before the City Prosecutor’s Office last September 10.

The complainants, individuals who tested positive on July 25, sued the station and the Facebook users for several counts of violation of Section 9 of Republic Act 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act in relation to Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

Section 9 of RA 11332  prohibits "unauthorized disclosure of private and confidential information pertaining to a patient’s medical condition or treatment."

The complainants said that their names, ages, addresses and occupations were listed in social media accounts without their permission.

“The postings in Facebook and eventual disclosure of their name, age, address, and/or occupation were all without the Complainants’ authorization, consent and permission, and the Complainants did not sign any legal document that gave the Respondents consent to make such disclosure,” the complainants noted.

Baguio was the first LGU which encouraged patients to divulge their identities to hasten contact tracing but permission has to come from the patient first, Magalong said.

The complaints included the results of an in-depth investigation done on each of the respondents’ posts.

“As per investigation, it was determined that each Respondent is the same person as the person who posted the Complainants’ name, age, address and/or occupation, stating therein the complete list of positive cases without the Complainants’ authority, consent and permission,” they said, adding:

The complainants asked for P200,000 individually for “moral damages, anxiety, depression and sleepless nights” as a result of the “unauthorized acts of the respondents.” – Rappler.com