Data privacy experts call for sanctions against CebuPac pilot

Data privacy practitioners are calling for penalties to be imposed on Cebu Pacific pilot Van Ranoa who made a false accusation on Facebook that Vice President Leni Robredo demanded that her airplane be given priority landing during a flight last month, forcing other flights to be diverted to other airports.

A portion of the now-deleted post of Cebu Pacific pilot Van Ranoa

Cebu Pacific Air, through its official Facebook account, has already refuted that claim of Ranoa and expressed its apologies to Robredo. Captain Sam Avila, vice president for flight operations of Cebu Pacific Air, said the allegations of its pilot had “no basis” and was “purely speculative”.

Supporters of Robredo also pointed out that the flight logs of Cebu Pacific’s last month showed there was only one flight diverted, which was due to a Cebu Pacific airplane that overshot the runway.

Lawyer Francis Acero, a former head of the complaints division of the National Privacy Commission (NPC), said the government should revoke Ranoa’s license and that he be prosecuted for malicious disclosure provided under the Data Privacy Act.

In the pilot’s post, he claimed that one of his passengers was an “ambassador of Australia”. This revelation, data privacy experts said, is a clear violation of data privacy of passenger manifest or list.

Jamael Jacob, another lawyer who worked for the NPC but is now the data privacy officer of Ateneo de Manila University, said Ranoa’s post was intentional and not merely careless.

“On the contrary, that’s such a calculated form of character assassination reeking with malice,” Jacob said.

Ranoa has taken down his post, with Cebu Pacific saying that he is now “under disciplinary review” of the company.

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