The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) welcomed and defended the move of the Joint Task Force COVID Shield, inviting netizens to report violations of quarantine protocols through its official Facebook page and for the PNP to monitor quarantine violations through social media.
DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año commended the move saying that “it encourages citizen engagement through social media platforms and it appeals to all civic-minded young people who are concerned about the health and welfare of all Filipinos.”
“Now that we have flattened the COVID-19 curve, all the more should we be more careful and vigilant so as to contain and further reduce the active cases. Habang hinihintay natin ang pagdating ng bakuna, mas lalo nating pag-ibayuhin ang pag-iingat and enforcement of minimum health standards,” Año said.
The PNP’s JTF COVID Shield earlier ordered all police stations and units to monitor social media platforms for possible quarantine violations. Netizens were also encouraged by JTF COVID Shield Commander Gen. Guillermo Eleazar to tag the JTF FB page when they see photos and reports online of violations of minimum health standards and other quarantine violations.
DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya belied criticisms that the use of Facebook or social media to investigate quarantine violations violates the right to privacy of the individual saying that there is no violation of the right to privacy when it is the individual himself that posted it online.
“We cannot afford protection to persons if they themselves did nothing to place the matter within the confines of their private zone,” he said.
Citing the Supreme Court ruling in Vivares vs St Theresa's College wherein some students who posted nearly nude photos on social media were not allowed to join their batch’s graduation ceremony, Malaya said that there is no violation of the right to privacy when it is the person himself who posted the material online.
“However, there is a big difference between spying or hacking the social media of persons to build a case against him or her as against using his/her social media posts as evidence when s/he has already committed a violation. May violation ka na nga, pinangalandakan mo pa sa social media,” he added.
Among the most common quarantine violations flaunted on social media are mass gathering and celebrations, drinking session, non-observance of physical distancing, non-wearing of face masks, and pillion riding on motorcycles of unauthorized individuals.
Malaya advised that netizens should be cautious, maintain their privacy, and that they should exercise sound discretion regarding how much personal information they are willing to show on their social media pages.
“Netizens ought to be aware that, by entering or uploading any kind of data or information online, they are automatically and inevitably making it permanently available online, the perpetuation of which is outside the ambit of their control. Since these are public posts, the PNP has every right to make social media posts as a basis to begin an investigation if warranted,” said Malaya.
Also, he stressed, unscrupulous and ill-intentioned hackers may infiltrate their pages and steal information which they might use in any way they want.