THE DEPARTMENT of Justice (DoJ) rejected a call to suspend the country’s law on data privacy, saying the government should instead improve its contact-tracing system in connection with the coronavirus.

“The solution is not to suspend the Data Privacy Act, but to make the system of contact-tracing more thorough, efficient and far-reaching,” Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said in a Viber group message on Tuesday.

He said the law had taken effect and could not be suspended unless allowed by Congress.

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Philippine Silk Road International Chamber of Commerce, Employers Confederation of the Philippines and Philippine Exporters Confederation in Sept. asked the government to build decent quarantine facilities in strategic local government units in the capital region.

They also said the P5-million budget for contact tracers should be cut and channeled to more quarantine facilities.

Once the budget for contact tracing is cut, people should voluntarily disclose if they have been infected or exposed to someone infected with the coronavirus, they said.

To supplement the voluntary disclosure, the business groups asked the state to suspend the implementation the Data Privacy Act, “including the patient confidentiality clauses, as part of government prerogatives in this crisis.”

“Available data from health authorities may be utilized for contact-tracing without compromising the privacy of individuals,” Mr. Guevarra said. — Bianca Angelica D. Añago