[Mirror] Romatan, Rolynda Ezra

Summer 2011

Body scanners in Philippine Airports

The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) has been planning to purchase body scanners for airport terminals in Metro Manila. This is a brilliant idea. However, this issue gathered different arguments from among liberals and human rights advocates which had lead most people to oppose the plan. Stirred issues concerning constitutional protection on privacy blinded most people.

In some other countries, body scanners are already installed in airports and train stations. Recently, some photos taken from these machines were leaked into the Internet. This event might have caused defiance from most people with regard body scanners.

Body scanners, one of the technological advances of today, is a good investment for national security and interest of a country. Since today, terrorists and drug syndicates are wiser than yesterday because their operations are upgraded to the next level.

Say for example the illicit drug operations today. Drug syndicates now conceal illegal drugs inside a body of a person. It is done by making their subjects swallow a thumb-sized drug capsules instead of hiding it to their baggage. Think of this, what if terrorists planted bombs inside the body of suicide-bombers? I bet, even a million trained dogs would not be able to detect such stuff inside a person’s body. Of course, K-9s sniff into passengers’ baggage and not on people. . . the point is, our security measures are not so advance to cope up with the advances of society’s villains. We are still oh so traditional!

People, we need this kind of machine or else we may be named as a transhipment for drugs or worse, a spot for terrorists.

The biggest issue argued by opponents of body scanners is the invasion of a person’s right to privacy.

In our country, we give great respect to a person’s rights. If conflicting interests are involved, our laws recognized a hierarchy of rights for which to resolve these conflicts. Our laws do not permit intrusion and denial of our rights.

Article III of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, our present Constitution, contains the Bill of Rights, our rights as people of the Philippines, it serves as a limitation to the inherent powers of the State. Under Section 2 thereof provides,

‘Section 2. The right of the people to be secure 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 the 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.’

This provision embodies a person’s right to privacy. This right protects us from unreasonable intrusion by the State to our privacy.

A person’s right to privacy, however is not without exceptions. Like any other rights we have, it is not absolute. National security and interest are paramount to our right to privacy. On this basis alone, the installation of body scanners to our airports can withstand constitutional attacks.

One of the recognized exception to our right to privacy is the enforcement of immigration laws, the enforcement of airport security procedures. When a person goes into our airports, he should expect to lose the protection of this right. As part of airport security procedures, searches may be conducted to his person and to the properties under his immediate control. A security procedure like this is imperative to address the infinite concern on drug trafficking and terrorism.

Moreover, the highest court of our land has decided in the case of People Vs. Johnson (GR No. 138881, 18 December 2000) that airport security procedures do not necessarily violate the constitutional protection on a person’s privacy. The Supreme Court held in this wise,

‘… .Passengers attempting to board an aircraft routinely pass through scans. Should these procedures suggest the presence of suspicious objects, physical searches are conducted to determine what the objects are. There is little question that such searches are reasonable, given their minimal intrusiveness, the gravity of the safety interests involved, and the reduced privacy expectations associated with airline travel.. .’

Body scanners will only be installed in our airports and not in malls or some other places we usually go. That means, we will be subjected to the scan only when we go to our airports. What could have been so haunting to some people about these machines? So what if the whole body is exposed? What would be so embarrassing? It will be done for security purposes only and the scan will take just a while. We, people should be more open regarding this matter.

As regards the leaked photos online in other countries, such an event can be prevented. We will give due consideration into implementing rules and regulations should we adopt body scanners on our airports. We are intelligent people, my dear Filipinos, we will definitely not incur mistakes like those of the other countries.

Its time that we should open up to advantages that the technology offers.

The Law on Copyright…

Our laws protect every person’s right from being violated by another. in whatever aspect, our laws provide remedies to victims of undue advantage. However, some laws are short of the needed protection to certain rights due to different reasons.

Republic Act No. 8293, known as the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines, protects and secures the exclusive right of scientists, inventors, artists and other gifted citizens to their intellectual property and creations. The Law on Copyright is embodied in this Act, so as the Law on Patents and on Trademarks.

The Law on Copyright
Part IV, RA No. 8293

Section 217 of RA 8293 provides for the criminal penalties to any person infringing any right secured by the provisions of the Law on Copyright. The worst of these is a penalty of six years and one day to nine years imprisonment plus a fine ranging from five hundred thousand pesos to one million five hundred thousand pesos, and subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency.

What is Copyright anyway????

Copyright or Economic right, as mentioned in Section 177 of RA 8293, consist of the exclusive right to carry out, authorize or prevent the following acts:

  • Reproduction of the work or substantial portion of the work;
  • Dramatization, translation, adaptation, abridgment, arrangement or other transformation of the work;
  • The first public distribution of the original and each of the work by sale or other forms of transfer of ownership;
  • Rental of the original or a copy of an audiovisual or cinematographic work, a work embodied in a sound recording, a computer program, a compilation of data and other materials or a musical work in graphic form, irrespective of the ownership of the original or the copy which is the subject of the rental;
  • Public display of the original or copy of the work;
  • Public performance of the work; and
  • other communication to the public of the work.

Copyright protects Literary and Artistic works and Derivative works. Original intellectual creations in the literary and artistic domain protected from the time of their creation are enumerated under Section 172 of RA 8293. Some of those enumerated, as copyrightable, are works of drawing, painting, architecture, sculpture, engraving, lithography or other works of art; models or designs for works of art; pictorial illustrations and advertisements; and so on..

Copyright protects the rights of the authors , or in some instances, the owner of the copyright. But, what if the intellectual creations or works are placed in a public domains, public places or spaces like statues or sculptures in public plazas, streets, etc.???

Will I be liable for infringement of copyright if I took pictures of an sculpture located in a public street and posted it on the Internet? Will I be liable if I took pictures of giant billboards in Edsa and posted it on the Internet? How should the copyright of these works be protected??

Original works, like sculptures, paintings, etc., situated in public places are copyright protected. The copyright owners may have a cause of action for infringement. In this case, however, such an action may easily be dismissed because of the minimal parameters set by the law to govern unusual cases. The circumstances presented herein calls for a particular governing rules.

Works located in public areas should be free from copyright protection. In this case, there will be no infringement because no copyright is granted in the first place. This rule is fair.

The lapses on the law may be filled by a judicial legislation. No clear cut rules have been laid down since no case has reached the highest court for decision. Each case involving copyright has distinct facts that should be considered. Despite the lapses of the law on copyright, still, it is able to address the complexities of changing times.

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