National Security Information Clearance Act



Only last Monday (May 13, 2024), I introduced Senate Bill 2667 or The National Security Information Clearance Act. The bill was premised on the important goal of safeguarding classified matters and information in government offices, most importantly those that may imperil national security and stability. The proposed legislation also detailed the policies and procedures by which data and information in government agencies should be classified, stored, and accessed, and the penalties for those who will violate the policies outlined in the act.

We need not underscore how critical classified information is to national security. Yes, we recognize and uphold the public’s right to know about their government’s decisions and actions and how national issues and concerns are being addressed. However, we should recognize and emphasize as well the need to balance transparency and security. Careful thought and analysis should be exercised in the disclosure of information to the public, ensuring that such will not create fear or distress or deceit, or disrupt the people’s peace. Unauthorized access to or disclosure of classified information can cause significant harm to many aspects of national defense such as intelligence gathering, communications, operations, strategies, and diplomatic negotiations, among others. Sensitive data should be protected in order to guarantee our nation’s peace, stability and unification. 

Leakage of classified information can create serious and lasting impacts on a nation’s stability and security, thus the need for legislation to be firmly in place. A number of notable historical examples of classified information disclosures include: (1) The Pentagon Papers leak in the US in 1971 when analyst Daniel Ellsberg disclosed a US Military report about the Vietnam War which exposed the extent to which the US government withheld information from the public; (2) the Watergate Scandal in 1972 which revealed the unethical actions of then US President Nixon, stained his presidency and later led to his resignation in 1974; (3) The Drone Papers in 2015 which detailed the US military’s drone warfare program in the Middle East, in particular Afghanistan, Yemen and Iraq.

The need for the National Security Information Clearance Act has never been clearer than now, with the geopolitical polarities of the world constantly changing. If we are to create an image of the Philippines as a strategic partner for the international community, then we ought to ensure that we give them the impression that we are a safe, secured and stable nation.