SY 2011-2012, First Semester
- “Follow us on Twitter” or “Like us on Facebook”
- Suppression of Information: Legal or Illegal?
- Full Disclosure
Is the use of “Follow usm on twitter” or Like us on facebook by a broadcast network appropriate? Is it illegal or falls short/over the ethics of broadcasting and advertising? My answer to the questions raised would be a negative.
There is no law prohibiting the use of such phrase in the Philippines bybroadcast networks or advertising agencies. It cannot be considered as unfair/secret advertising which the French law banned in 1992.
For me to be considered as unfair advertising the advertising privilege must be given only to few or choosen company and prohibited to be used by others. In using “follow us on twitter” or like us on facebook” can be used by anybody or any company whether for advertisement or transaction purposes. Unfairness will not set-in if everybody can use the same.
The use of the words is just like giving the prospective clients your company’s / own telephone number. The purpose of which is to give your client more access to the company’s product if ever a question needs to be asked. It is tantamount to giving the clients more opportunity to know the product or services.
When companies pitch their social media handles in an advertisement, what they are really saying to listeners is-“To continue their conversation, to learn more about the products and services. It may mean “call this phone number or go to this website”.
Can we as ordinary citizens create our own version of Wikileaks.org and report therein the anomalies of the State and the major corporations?
WikiLeaks is an international non-profit organization working for transparency which publishes news leaks based on their ethical, historical and political significance. WikiLeaks relates to many policy issues including access to government information, censorship and the blocking of web sites, government secrecy and the over-classification of government information, treatment of whistleblowers, government transparency and the legalities surrounding classified information. Many organizations agree on the undeniable value that WikiLeaks has had by indicating violations of human rights and civil liberties. Stephen Aftergood, director of Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy comments: “It has invaded personal privacy. It has published libellous material. It has violated intellectual property rights. And above all, it has launched a sweeping attack not simply on corruption, but on secrecy itself. But according to Glenn Greenwald, lawyer and civil rights activist, the amount of corruption which WikiLeaks has exposed is unique in history and there is no other organization that comes close to WikiLeaks regarding exposures of misuse of power. If secrecy of administrative documents is used to cover government misbehavior, especially inhuman conditions and killing of people, there must be legal grounds to overcome formal borders of secrecy. This has seen as a justified way to protect democratic society and citizen against secret arbitrary government power.
With that short discussion about the opinions regarding Wikileaks we can now ask the question: Can we as ordinary citizens create our own version of Wikileaks.org and report therein the anomalies of the State and the major corporations?
As provided by Section 7 of the Bill of Rights of the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines – “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 limitations as may be provided by law.” Section 24 of the State Policy of the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines provides that “The State recognizes the vital role of communication and information in Nation Building”… I think these two provisions are clear with the intentions to give the people the right and freedom to have access to such communications and information but it should be read that it is subject to limitations provided by law. Not all information can be accessible to the public like those informations that are classified. Classified information is a sensitive information to which access is restricted by law or regulations to particular group of person created to the furtherance of a better civil society. Information like of the foreign affairs of the Republic of the Philippines, when its revelation would unduly weaken the negotiating position of the government in an ongoing bilateral or multilateral negotiation or seriously jeopardize the diplomatic relations of the Philippines with one or more states with which it intends to keep friendly relations. Information pertaining to internal and external defense and law enforcement, when the revelation thereof would render a legitimate military operation ineffective, unduly compromise the prevention, detection or suppression of a criminal activity, or endanger the life or physical safety of confidential or protected sources or witnesses, law enforcement and military personnel or their immediate families is also one of the information regarded as classified. Further, Article II (Declaration of Principles and State Policies), Section 28 also states: “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.” BUT if secrecy of administrative documents is used to cover government misbehavior, especially inhuman conditions and killing of people, there must be legal grounds to overcome formal borders of secrecy.
As provided by Section 7 of the Bill of Rights of the 1987 Constitution 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 limitations as may be provided by law.”
But information according to the Supreme Court of the Philippines is not a private right, but a public right, which may be asserted by any citizen. This information includes laws and jurisprudence which are undoubtedly of public concern.
Nevertheless, the Court has resolved to refrain from posting in its Internet Web Page the full text of decisions in cases involving child sexual abuse in response to a letter from a mother of a child abuse victim addressed to the Chief Justice expressing anxiety over the posting of full text decisions of the Supreme Court on its Internet Web Page. The mother submitted that confidentiality and the best interest of the child must prevail over public access to information and pleaded that her daughter’s case, as well as those of a similar nature, be excluded from the Web .
The provisions on confidentiality of these enactments uniformly seek to respect the dignity and protect the privacy of women and their children. Sec. 29 of RA 7610 provides:
Sec. 29. Confidentiality. — at the instance of the offended party, his name may be withheld from the public until the court acquires jurisdiction over the case.
It shall be unlawful for any editor, publisher, and reporter or columnist in case of printed materials, announcer or producer in the case of television and radio broadcasting, producer and director in the case of the movie industry, to cause undue and sensationalized publicity of any case of a violation of this Act which results in the moral degradation and suffering of the offended party.
Sec. 44 of RA 9262 similarly provides:
Sec. 44. Confidentiality.—All records pertaining to cases of violence against women and their children including those in the barangay shall be confidential and all public officers and employees and public or private clinics or hospitals shall respect the right to privacy of the victim. Whoever publishes or causes to be published, in any format, the name, address, telephone number, school, business address, employer, or other identifying information of a victim or an immediate family member, without the latter’s consent, shall be liable to the contempt power of the court.
Any person who violates this provision shall suffer the penalty of one (1) year imprisonment and a fine of not more than Five Hundred Thousand Pesos (P500,000.00).
Likewise, the Rule on Violence Against Women and their Children states:
Sec. 40. Privacy and confidentiality of proceedings.—All hearings of cases of violence against women and their children shall be conducted in a manner consistent with the dignity of women and their children and respect for their privacy.
Records of the cases shall be treated with utmost confidentiality. Whoever publishes or causes to be published, in any format, the name, address, telephone number, school, business address, employer or other identifying information of the parties or an immediate family or household member, without their consent or without authority of the court, shall be liable for contempt of court and shall suffer the penalty of one year imprisonment and a fine of not more than Five Hundred Thousand (P500,000.00) Pesos.
Office of the Solicitor General in its comment that in order to determine whether the subject matter upon which the right to privacy being invoked falls within the constitutionally-protected zone of privacy, it must be shown that the person’s expectation of privacy is reasonable. The reasonableness of such expectancy depends on a two–part test: (1) whether by his conduct, the individual has exhibited an expectation of privacy; and (2) whether this expectation is one that society recognizes as reasonable.  There is no reason for the Court not to grant such withholding of names of those person which is threaten to be degraded by the publication of recently concluded cases whether on the Supreme Court Web Page or on any of its publications.
It was held by the Court that “In view of recent enactments which unequivocally express the intention to maintain the confidentiality of information in cases involving violence against women and their children, in this case and henceforth, the Court shall withhold the real name of the victim-survivor and shall use fictitious initials instead to represent her. Likewise, the personal circumstances of the victims-survivors or any other information tending to establish or compromise their identities, as well those of their immediate family or household members, shall not be disclosed.”
But with regards to the names of the convicted criminals I am of the opinion that withholding their names on Supreme Court’s Web Page should not be granted because for me the convicted criminals are not protected by the law on privacy. They have committed a crime against the public on which the very basic law on privacy was based and created. He has transgressed the right of the people which the law protects that is the reason why the convivted criminals should not be granted the right to be protected against the publication of their names on Supreme Court Web Page and such other documents.
 People of the Philippines vs. Melchor Cabalquinto G.R. No. 167693 September 19, 2006
 People of the Philippines vs. Melchor Cabalquinto G.R. No. 167693 September 19, 2006