DFA: 'No assurances on safety' of some passport data

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Tuesday, January 15, that it "can give no assurances" on the safety of "some data" related to Philippine passports, as a passport data controversy hounds the agency.

"Only a Senate investigation will assure the public that there was no breach or loss of data. Until then, the Department can give no assurances on the safety and security of some data," said Foreign Secretary Teodoro "Teddyboy" Locsin Jr.

This was the first formal statement of Locsin since the controversy erupted. Locsin has made most of his pronouncements through Twitter.

"For now, the Department of Foreign Affairs is taking the word of APO Production Unit that there is no breach in passport data and as sufficient justification in removing the birth certificate requirement in the renewal of passports," Locsin said.

Locsin said earlier on Tuesday that there is no runaway of passport data as he earlier claimed.

On the same day, he scrapped the birth certificate requirement for passport renewals, in response to public complaints against the DFA's services.

The reported loss of passport data, which came from Locsin himself, ignited a firestorm in a country still reeling from a data leak that involved 70 million voters' records in 2016.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said this is a "serious and grave matter," while Vice President Leni Robredo and senators called for an investigation into the passport data mess. (READ: Senate probe sought into DFA passport data loss– Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.