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Professional squatters, squatting syndicates can be identified publicly – DOJ

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The Department of Justice has rendered an opinion that the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development can identify professional squatters and squatting syndicates.

In a legal opinion addressed to DHSUD Assistant Secretary Melissa Adranas, who heads the National Drive Against Professional Squatters and Squatting Syndicates (NDAPSSS), Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla stressed that the Data Privacy Acct of 2012 “will not apply.”

Remulla issued the legal opinion after NDAPSSS raised concerns that its proposed flyers and pamphlets might violate Republic Act No.10173, the Data Privacy Act of 2012.

The Justice Secretary said that under Section 2 of Executive Order (EO) No. 153, series of 2002, the DOJ and the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) are “directed to take the lead in the identification of Professional Squatters and Squatting Syndicates (PSSS), monitor and launch operations, through the proper agency or body, to curtail their activities.”

According to him, the EO had transferred the powers of the abolished National Committee Against Squatting Syndicates and Professional Squatters to the HUDCC to adopt the necessary measures to identify and effectively curtail the activities of professional squatters and squatting syndicates, including the names of public officials and/or private individuals or companies abetting or tolerating the commission of the act.

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It also provides the HUDCC and National Housing Authority (NHA) copies of identified squatting syndicates and professional squatters in order to safeguard against their inclusion in future programs/projects and recommend disqualification in existing programs.

The EO also mandates to provide legal assistance to victims of professional squatters and syndicates and make available, through the DOJ and Philippine National Police (PNP), a consolidated list of squatting syndicates and professional squatters;

The HUDCC and NHA have also been put on task to monitor demolition and eviction activities and, hence, draw up and establish their monitoring system.

“These foregoing functions require the processing of personal information of the PSSS to restrain them from carrying out illegal activities,” Remulla said.

“Considering that the NDAPSSS flyer/pamphlet aims to promote awareness against PSSS to protect the transacting public, the Data Privacy Act of 2012 will not apply,” he said.

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