UNSR visit chance to discuss right to privacy, freedom of expression

January 22, 2024, 10:01 am Updated on January 22, 2024, 11:15 am

MANILA – The upcoming visit of United Nations Special Rapporteur (UNSR) Irene Khan is an opportunity to discuss the relationship between the right to privacy and freedom of opinion and expression as aspects of a "vibrant" democracy, the National Privacy Commission (NPC) said.

In a statement over the weekend, the NPC said challenges surrounding privacy and freedom of expression also evolve with technology.

"The NPC is dedicated to addressing these challenges through collaborative efforts and constructive dialogues, developing initiatives and policies that strike a balance between protecting personal information while ensuring the free flow of information," the statement read.

Commissioner John Henry Naga would present the commission's initiatives and accomplishments in advocating for freedom of expression while protecting the right to privacy.

"This is provided for under the provisions of Republic Act No. 10173, also known as the Data Privacy Act of 2012, which extends protection to journalists and their sources. Additionally, the law also exempts personal information processed for journalistic, artistic, literary, or research purposes," the NPC said, adding that it is "looking forward to a productive and enlightening exchange" with Khan.

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Khan will arrive in the country on Jan. 22 and will stay until Feb. 2.

Khan is the third SR to visit the Philippines in 14 months, after SR for the Sale and Exploitation of Children, Fatimah Singhateh, in November 2022 and SR for Climate Change and Human Rights, Ian Fry, in November 2023.

Constructive dialogue

The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), meanwhile, said it is looking to have a constructive dialogue with Khan.

"With this visit, we aim to foster an environment where diverse viewpoints can coexist while upholding the principles of truth, respect for human rights, and ethical journalism," NTF-ELCAC National Secretariat executive director Undersecretary Ernesto Torres Jr. said in a statement over the weekend.

Khan will meet with civil society, human rights organizations, media organizations, experts and academics and other stakeholders to get information about the status of the national normative framework, media freedom, internet freedom and freedom of expression.

Torres said Khan's visit provides an excellent opportunity for NTF-ELCAC and other government agencies to highlight the government's efforts in protecting and promoting the rights of every human being in the country.

He added the NTF-ELCAC advocates the whole-of-nation approach to attain lasting peace and is committed to upholding the rule of law and strongly condemns all forms of abuse or violence against women and children.

"The National Task Force is also dedicated to transparency and responsible communications focusing mainly in disseminating accurate and reliable information, countering false narratives, and combating disinformation to protect the Filipino people from the threats of terrorism and violent extremism," Torres said. (with report from Priam Nepomuceno/PNA)