Issue of July 25, 2021
     
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IHG worker files data privacy case versus former Holiday Inn Baguio GM
by Harley F. Palangchao

An employee of IHG Philippines has filed a complaint against the former acting general manager of Holiday Inn Baguio City Center before the Complaints and Investigation Division of the National Privacy Commission (NPC) for violation of the Data Privacy Act.

On July 12, the NPC has summoned complainant Christopher de Vera of IHG Philippines, who is seeking for damages, and respondent Rachelle Pimentel of Holiday Inn Baguio City Center for a preliminary conference on Aug. 6 wherein parties may decide if they will avail of alternative dispute resolution, among others.

The conference via Zoom may also seek for the “simplification of issues; possibility of obtaining stipulations or admissions of facts and of documents to avoid unnecessary proof; or such other matters as may aid in the prompt disposition of the complaint.”

NPC investigating officer Danya Torres, in the order, hoped the parties may settle the case amicably and will “be referred to a mediation officer assigned or designated by the Commission to conduct mediation.”

De Vera has filed the complaint on Feb. 24, saying there was a violation of his privacy due to the unauthorized access and use of his personal data, concealment of breach, and unauthorized and malicious disclosure involving his personal information. 

De Vera and his family of two young children stayed at the Holiday Inn Baguio Centre on Feb. 13, availing of his rewards night, an exclusive rate given to members through their IHG Rewards Club program. The hotel is part of the program.

The information he provided the hotel was used without his permission in filing an incident report with his employer (IHG Philippines), alleging that he violated the “employee room benefit.”

IHG, however, absolved him of any wrongdoing, but the irresponsible handling of his information has, among others, “tarnished his reputation and has violated my rights as an individual.”  

In her comment on the verified complaint, Pimentel said that de Vera only registered his wife and none of his two children who were booked in one of the hotel rooms. The Inter-agency Task Force requires the registration of all room occupants.

That evening, the front desk received a complaint from a nearby room claiming that there was a supposed “party” at de Vera’s room due to the “loud noise.”

De Vera refused to move his two children to another room, saying they are too young when hotel staff informed him that only two guests only are allowed per room. The same was reflected in the incident report filed by the hotel’s front desk office last Feb. 15.

The incident was reported to the Department of Tourism by the aggrieved party from the adjacent room wherein de Vera’s reply was required. The hotel, however, was unable to contact him to answer the complaint against him prompting Pimentel to contact IHG’s Human Resources Officer so they could get in touch with de Vera.

Pimentel added: “The personal details of the complainant (de Vera) were never revealed to any outsider and information was released as a consequence of a police investigation and due to the complaint filed with the Department of Tourism.”

In her defense, she said that de Vera “failed to state the information supposed to have been revealed by the respondent (Pimentel).” 

She also maintained that she did not violate the Data Privacy Act and asked the NPC to deny the complaint for lack of cause of action.

Pimentel is no longer connected with Holiday Inn but hotel lawyer Perlita Chan Rondez said that they will fight out the complaint lodged by de Vera. 

The Holiday Inn Baguio City Center is a sister company of IHG.


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