[Mirror] Alejo, Jeffry

SY 2011-2012, First Semester


Is it proper for the broadcasting media network or personalities to endorse a specific social networking service or site in their program?

As defined by Wikipedia, a social networking service (SNS) is an online service, platform, or site that focuses on building and reflecting of social networks or social relations among people, who, for example, share interests and/or activities. A social network service essentially consists of a representation of each user (often a profile), his/her social links, and a variety of additional services. Most social network services are web based and provide means for users to interact over the Internet, such as e-mail and instant messaging. Online community services are sometimes considered as a social network service, though in a broader sense, social network service usually means an individual-centered service whereas online community services are group-centered. Social networking sites allow users to share ideas, activities, events, and interests within their individual networks.

The main types of social networking services are those which contain category places (such as former school year or classmates), means to connect with friends (usually with self-description pages) and a recommendation system linked to trust. Popular methods now combine many of these, with Facebook and Twitter widely used worldwide, Nexopia (mostly in Canada); Bebo, VKontakte, Hi5, Hyves (mostly in The Netherlands), Draugiem.lv (mostly in Latvia), StudiVZ (mostly in Germany), iWiW (mostly in Hungary), Tuenti (mostly in Spain), Nasza-Klasa (mostly in Poland), Nyx.cz (mostly in Czech Republic), Decayenne, Tagged, XING, Badoo and Skyrock in parts of Europe; Orkut and Hi5 in South America and Central America;[6] and Friendster, Mixi, Multiply, Orkut, Wretch, renren and Cyworld in Asia and the Pacific Islands and Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Orkut are very popular in India.

Most popular social network websites put a strong emphasis on the user’s profile, this is where you tell the world about yourself; friends, who are the trusted members of the site that are allowed to post comments on your profile or send you private messages; groups, which help you find people with similar interests or engage in discussions on certain topics; and, discussions, which the primary focus of groups is to create interaction between users in the form of discussions.

Nowadays, broadcasters/newscasters can’t help to mention their membership to a particular social networking site (SNS) every time they encourage their viewers to follow or like their pages such as in Twitter or in Facebook.

An example of this scenario is as follows:

Dear Jeffry Alejo:

Keep up-to-date with what’s happening to our country and the world by following us!
See you in the Social Networking world.

Follow us on twitter, click here
Like us on facebook, click here

Philippine Star

But why do these well-known media companies and personalities still have to seek popularity on these SNS when in fact they already have conquered the world’s most visible tool in reaching out people? What’s in SNS that people of all ages and backgrounds can’t say no and made such a phenomenon?

To answer the issue on whether or not it is appropriate or proper for any broadcasting media network or personalities to endorse a social networking in their program, I would say that it is legal because of the following reasons:

a. Section 4, Article III of the 1987 Philippine Constitution provides that:

“No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.”

b. Article 5 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines, reads;

“Acts executed against the provisions of mandatory or prohibitory laws shall be void, except when the law itself authorizes their validity.”

Media companies or personalities are also just like any ordinary people from different walks of life who have discovered that they can enrich their lives through the benefits given by these social networking sites. Whatever their purposes are in signing up or being a member of any networking website and endorsing them to their followers or viewers is just a manifestation that freedom of choice and expression, much more freedom of the press, as the paramount state policies is still in place.

Unfair competition among SNS providers cannot be given consideration in this case since this is an exercise of the consumer or the general public of his/her freedom of expression or choice on what SNS provider he/she will be a member of. Social networking sites right now can be considered as brand and the consumer or client has the right to choice among them.

Further, since the act of signing up to a particular social networking site and thereafter, endorsing it to your friends or followers are not act or acts that is/are against the provision of mandatory or prohibitory laws. I would submit that, currently, there is no law that prohibiting endorsement of a media company or media personalities, i.e. newscasters, broadcasters, to a specific networking site, hence, the act is legal.


Are ordinary citizens entitled free access to information even if the information is confidential in nature?

In the Philippines, the people’s right to have access to information has long been recognized. In fact, the framers of the 1987 Constitution, cognizant of the necessity to ensure transparency and accountability in government, have included such right of the people under its Declaration of Principles and State Policies, and under Section 28, Article II which provides that:

“Subject to reasonable conditions prescribed by law, the State adopts and implements a policy of full public disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest.”

Looking back, the constitutional right to information first gained recognition in the Bill of Rights, Article IV, of the 1973 Constitution, which states:

Sec. 6. The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, shall be afforded the citizen subject to such limitations as may be provided by law.

The foregoing provision has been retained and the right therein provided amplified in Article III, Sec. 7 of the 1987 Constitution with the addition of the phrase, “as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development.” The new provision reads:

“The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents, and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis. for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such stations as may be provided by law. “

Moreover, Section 5(e) of Republic Act No. 6713, otherwise known as the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, requires that all public documents must be made accessible to, and readily available for inspection by, the public within reasonable working hours. It states:

Section 5. Duties of Public Officials and Employees. – In the performance of their duties, all public officials and employees are under obligation to:

e) Make documents accessible to the public. – All public documents must be made accessible to, and readily available for inspection by, the public within reasonable working hours.

In view of the foregoing legal basis, I would say that indeed, people, whether ordinary or journalist, should have access to any information whether confidential/classified or not. Such right is very important citing the following reasons herein below stated.

The right to information is a vital tool in order for the people to participate in the building of a better society. If people have access to information they can more meaningfully make decisions about their own lives and directions, voice informed opinions, influence policies that affect their communities, and help shape a more assured future for the next generation. These aspects did not distinguish if the information is ordinary or classified or confidential in nature, as long as the information is relevant to one’s own point of view.

If citizens are denied their right to be informed – to know the priorities of government, for example, or the spending of taxpayers’ money, the rules and interests that dictate official plans and policies, or the indicators of efficiency and efficacy (or the weaknesses and flaws) of their leaders – they run the risk of being ignored, isolated, left behind, abused, or disappointed by those same governments and leaders.

Access to information is a crucial element in the effort to reduce corruption, increase accountability, and deepen trust among citizens and their governments. Public access to government-held information allows individuals to better understand the role of government and the decisions being made on their behalf. With an informed citizenry, governments can be held accountable for their policies, and citizens can more effectively choose their representatives.

Equally important, access to information laws can be used to improve the lives of people as they request information relating to health care, education, and other public services.

To have access to information, in other words, is to be empowered to effect change. Very often those who oppose access to information are those whose interests are threatened by the prospect of reform. Barriers to information tend to be protective of the status quo and the interests that would be uncomfortable with political, social, or economic change.

Moreover, it must be emphasized that the right to information is not simply about the rights of the press. Access to information is, and should be, for the enjoyment and benefit of all.

Access to information is not just for journalists. It is just as much for workers who have a right to know how their taxes are spent. It is for homemakers who want to understand why prices of commodities rise – or if such price increases are at all justified. It is for citizens who are keen to understand (and if necessary, question) history as well as the most current issues of the day. It is for every member of any society that wants to claim his or her rights, and his or her desire to participate in nation-building.

If people have access to information they can more meaningfully make decisions about their own lives and directions, voice informed opinions, influence policies that affect their communities, and help shape a more assured future for the next generation. On the other hand, uninformed citizens run the risk of being ignored, isolated, left behind, abused, or disappointed by the same governments, leaders, and programs they have every right to monitor.

To have access to information, in other words, is to be protected from ignorance, inefficiency and abuse, as well as to be empowered to effect and demand change for the better. Access to information makes democracy more meaningful, as it allows citizens to participate in community and national affairs.

In summary, I strongly believed that right to information, whether classified/confidential or not, is a basic right of every citizen as guaranteed by our constitution. Free expression is the right to speak. Access to information is the right to know. Press freedom is the right to be heard. Without one, all three are compromised.


Whether Chan Robles, Law Phil, UST repository of laws and any other private repository of laws and jurisprudence may be compelled by any person to cause the removal of any jurisprudence which he have been a party thereto per his claim that it violates his right to privacy?

ISSUE AT BAR – Whether Chan Robles, Law Phil, UST repository of laws and any other private repository of laws and jurisprudence may be compelled by any person to cause the removal of any jurisprudence which he have been a party thereto per his claim that it violates his right to privacy?

To address the issue on hand, concept of privacy will be elaborated first, followed by citing constitutional provisions, related laws and jurisprudence on the subject right to privacy and what constitutes right to privacy vis-à-vis the essence of jurisprudence; and then in summary, draw an answer on whether private repository of laws maybe compelled by any person to cause the removal of any jurisprudence in its database which the person have been a party thereto per a claim that it violates his right to privacy.

As defined by Wikipedia, privacy (from Latin: privatus “separated from the rest, deprived of something, esp. office, participation in the government”, from privo “to deprive”) is the ability of an individual or group to seclude themselves or information about themselves and thereby reveal themselves selectively. The boundaries and content of what is considered private differ among cultures and individuals, but share basic common themes. Privacy is sometimes related to anonymity, the wish to remain unnoticed or unidentified in the public realm. When something is private to a person, it usually means there is something within them that is considered inherently special or personally sensitive. The degree to which private information is exposed therefore depends on how the public will receive this information, which differs between places and over time. Privacy is broader than security and includes the concepts of appropriate use and protection of information.
The right against unsanctioned invasion of privacy by the government, corporations or individuals is part of many countries’ privacy laws, and in some cases, constitutions. Almost all countries have laws which in some way limit privacy; an example of this would be law concerning taxation, which normally requires the sharing of information about personal income or earnings. In some countries individual privacy may conflict with freedom of speech laws and some laws may require public disclosure of information which would be considered private in other countries and cultures. Privacy may be voluntarily sacrificed, normally in exchange for perceived benefits and very often with specific dangers and losses, although this is a very strategic view of human relationships. Academics who are economists, evolutionary theorists, and research psychologists describe revealing privacy as a ‘voluntary sacrifice’, where sweepstakes or competitions are involved. In the business world, a person may give personal details (often for advertising purposes) in order to enter a gamble of winning a prize. Information which is voluntarily shared and is later stolen or misused can lead to identity theft.

The right to privacy is the right to be let alone, in the absence of some “reasonable” public interest in a person’s activities, like those of celebrities or participants in newsworthy events. Invasion of the right to privacy can be the basis for a lawsuit for damages against the person or entity violating the right.

On the subject right to privacy, the 1987 Philippine Constitution provides that:

Section 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of laws.

Section 2. The right of the people to be sure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable and no search warrant or warrant of arrest, shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

Section 3. The privacy of communication and correspondence shall be inviolable except upon lawful order of the court or when public safety or order requires otherwise as prescribed by law.

There can be no doubt that right to privacy is constitutionally protected. In the landmark case of Morfe v. Mutuc [130 Phil. 415 (1968), 22 SCRA 424], the Supreme Court, speaking through then Mr. Justice Fernando, stated:

… The right to privacy as such is accorded recognition independently of its identification with liberty; in itself, it is fully deserving of constitutional protection. The language of Prof. Emerson is particularly apt: “The concept of limited government has always included the idea that governmental powers stop short of certain intrusions into the personal life of the citizen. This is indeed one of the basic distinctions between absolute and limited government. UItimate and pervasive control of the individual, in all aspects of his life, is the hallmark of the absolute. state, In contrast, a system of limited government safeguards a private sector, which belongs to the individual, firmly distinguishing it from the public sector, which the state can control. Protection of this private sector — protection, in other words, of the dignity and integrity of the individual — has become increasingly important as modem society has developed. All the forces of technological age — industrialization, urbanization, and organization — operate to narrow the area of privacy and facilitate intrusion into it. In modern terms, the capacity to maintain and support this enclave of private life marks the difference between a democratic and a totalitarian society.” [at pp. 444-445.]

Moreover, when the information requested from the government intrudes into the privacy of a citizen, a potential conflict between the rights to information and to privacy may arise. However, the competing interests of these rights need not be resolved in this case. Apparent from the above-quoted statement of the Court in Morfe is that the right to privacy belongs to the individual in his private capacity, and not to public and governmental agencies like the GSIS. Moreover, the right cannot be invoked by juridical entities like the GSIS. As held in the case of Vassar College v. Loose Wills Biscuit Co. [197 F. 982 (1912)], a corporation has no right of privacy in its name since the entire basis of the right to privacy is an injury to the feelings and sensibilities of the party and a corporation would have no such ground for relief.

On the other hand, the concept of jurisprudence was enunciated by Article 8 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines provides that:

Article 8. Judicial decisions applying or interpreting the laws or the Constitutions shall form a part of the legal system of the Philippines.

Jurisprudence or judicial decisions is the groundwork of the written law, or, as Bouvier defines it, “The science of law. The particular science of giving a wise interpretation to the laws and making a just application.

Jurisprudence are although in themselves not laws, are nevertheless evidence of what the laws mean, (this being) the reason why under Article 8 of the New Civil Code, Judicial decisions applying or interpreting the laws or the Constitution shall form a part of the legal system.’

The interpretation upon a law originally passed is interpreted by the Judiciary through jurisprudence which Court’s construction merely established the contemporaneous legislative intent that the law thus construed intends to effectuate. The settled rule supported by numerous authorities is a restatement of the legal maxim ‘legis interpretatio legis vim obtinet’ – the interpretation placed upon the written law by a competent court has the force of law.

So once a case is decided by the judiciary based on actual set of facts and controversy, it became now a jurisprudence.

As held by the Supreme Court in so many cases, the Court’s policy of maintaining stability in jurisprudence in accordance with the legal maxim ‘stare decisis et non quieta movere’ (Follow past precedents and do not disturb what has been settled.) Where, as in this case, the same questions relating to the same event have been put forward by parties similarly situated as in a previous case litigated and decided by a competent court, the rule of stare decisis is a bar to any attempt to relitigate the same issue (J.M. Tuason & Corp. v. Mariano, 85 SCRA 644 [1978]). In Woulfe v. Associated Realties Corporation (130 N.J. Eq. 519, 23 A. 2d 399, 401 [1942]) ‘Stare decisis simply declares that, for the sake of certainty, a conclusion reached in one case should be applied to those which follow, if the facts are substantially the same, even though the parties may be different’ (Heisler v. Thomas Colliery Co., 274 Pa. 448, 452, 118A, 394, 395 [1922].

Going back to the issue on hand on whether any person may cause any private repository of laws and jurisprudence the removal of any jurisprudence which he have been a party thereto per his claim that it violates his right to privacy?

I submit that he could not because of the following reasons:

a) The matter or the issue on hand is not a concept of invasion to right to privacy which the party has been injured or a tort which he may have a right to claim any redress or remedy. It is not even a publicity which means that the matter is made public, by communication it to the public at large, or to so many persons that the mater must be regarded as substantially certain to become one of public knowledge, because public repository of laws is not like a newspaper of general circulation with comparable breadth which everybody reads;

b) Uploading or posting any jurisprudence in any private repository of laws and jurisprudence couldn’t amount to defamation because not every member in society is informed by the facts stated in the jurisprudence;

c) The posting of decisions affecting the private life of a person without his consent would not amount to any damage on his part since the posting of the same is not for commercial benefit of any person;

d) There is no basis for harm. First, no showing of actual harm or damage to the person, second, not being a violation of a constitutional right to privacy, there may be no applicable statute giving him the right and no remedy in violations thereof. Jurisprudence posted in any repository of laws concerning a decided case before the public is not an invasion of privacy. The information wouldn’t be offensive to a reasonable person, since that person involved in the decided case had knowledge of or acted thereto;

e) The fact that law students read cases, e.g. on that particular case, is not a violation of the right to privacy of the parties in each particular case. The cases involving specific parties are circumstances on how the laws and legal doctrines are particularly applied. Privacy of a person has no issue of transcendental importance as to the real and primary function of a Supreme Court decision in the field of Law (both in study and in practice); and

f) Similarly, the accused or the adverse party in a decided case cannot invoked confidentially to seek respect to his dignity and protect privacy and to withhold from public the decided case because no undue and sensationalized publicity was done, which couldn’t amounts to moral degradation and suffering of the offended party.

Corollary to the issue, Article 3 of the New Civil Code provides that “Ignorance of the law excuses no one from compliance therewith.” Therefore, since there yet no law prohibiting or giving any person the right to compel any private repository of laws to cause for the removal of any jurisprudence in its database, the posting of the same is legal.

In summary, any person couldn’t compel any private repository of laws to cause for the removal of any jurisprudence in its database, which he have been a party thereto, per his claim that his right to privacy has been violated, notwithstanding all the reasons presented above, what is controlling is the provision of Article 8 of the Civil Code states that “judicial decisions applying or interpreting the laws or the constitution shall form part of the legal system of the Philippines.” Said decisions/jurisprudence /pronouncement of the Court, having formed part of the law of the land, withdrawing of the same to public record can no longer be done. Therefore, that person couldn’t do anything or could not compel any private repository of laws to withdraw any jurisprudence in its database.

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