MANILA—Malacañang on Saturday defended the redaction of information on Cabinet officials' statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN), saying they "still have the right to privacy."
"While we uphold the principle of transparency and accountability in public service, those working in the government, such as members of the Cabinet, still have the right to privacy," Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
He added that the officials' SALNs contain personal information that may be used by outside parties to commit fraud.
"However, SALNs are public documents and, to ensure the privacy and security of the official and their family, sensitive information has been blacked out," he added.
Abella said the redacted details were personal information such as family members and home addresses.
The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism recently revealed that some details of Cabinet members' SALNs were heavily redacted.
In 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte signed an executive order implementing the Freedom of Information (FOI), which provides for full disclosure of government records and transactions.
Abella, meanwhile, urged Congress to pass an FOI law, because the executive order has "obvious limitations."
"The redaction of public documents is nothing new," he said.
"Legitimate public interest in disclosure has to be balanced against the rights of the employees."
Abella also cited the Data Privacy Act, which protects personal data in the government and private sector’s information and communications systems.
"The Palace has acted to implement Republic Act 10173, or the Data Privacy Act, which was signed into law by the previous administration," he said.
"We must take note that the current SALN form has not been amended to comply with the data privacy in consonance with the global requirements/standards," he added.