SY 2011-2012, Second Semester
- May the parties in a Supreme Court decision prevent their true names from appearing from the published decisions, invoking their right to privacy?
The Executive Order approving the online publication of laws in the Official Gazette cannot amend Article 2 of the Civil Code. Said Article 2 provides that laws shall take effect after fifteen days following the completion of their publication either in the Official Gazette, or in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines, unless it is otherwise provided.
In Tañada vs. Tuvera, the Supreme Court declared that publication must be effected in the Official Gazette and not in any other medium. On June 18, 1987, E.O. 200 was passed by President Corazon Aquino amending Article 2. Pursuant to this, publication of laws may now be in a newspaper of general circulation.
E.O. 200 was passed while the former President was exercising legislative powers. Hence, it effectively amended Article 2. Today, the Executive cannot do the same without violating the separation of powers doctrine.
Undoubtedly, the Official Gazette contemplated in the law is not the online Official Gazette. Therefore, Article 2 of the Civil Code as amended and the Tañada vs. Tuvera case apply on the effectivity of laws. The Executive Order cannot affect the law, and can be deemed to be a matter of convenience for dissemination but not of substance when it comes to effectivity.
May the parties in a Supreme Court decision prevent their true names from appearing from the published decisions, invoking their right to privacy?
Article 26, Civil Code provides:
Every person shall respect the DIGNITY, personality, PRIVACY and PEACE OF MIND of his neighbors AND OTHER PERSONS. The following and SIMILAR ACTS, though they may not constitute a criminal offense, shall produce a cause of action for damages, PREVENTION and OTHER RELIEF:
In the case of Concepcion vs CA (324 scra 85), it was stated that “the touchstone of every system of law, of the culture and civilization of every country, is how it dignifies man. If the statutes insufficiently protect a person from being unjustly humiliated, in short, if human personality is not exalted, then the laws are indeed defective. Thus, under this article, the rights of persons are amply protected………”
In the same case, it was also declared that the enumeration is not exclusive. Even without such statement, the provision itself provides for the same effect because of the phrase “and similar acts.”
However, I humbly submit that the application of the above provision still depends on the party invoking it. Firstly, the nature of the case must be first determined. Is it a criminal case or a civil case? Secondly, if a criminal case, does it involve moral turpitude? Thirdly, is the accused convicted or acquitted?
The victim in a criminal case at all instances may validly invoke Article 26. So may the parties in a civil case. Their dignity, privacy and peace of mind may be violated when their names and delicate situations appear in the Supreme Court, downloadable from the internet and free for consumption. But in the case of the accused, qualifications are required.
In a criminal case, there will generally be two private parties – the offender or the accused on the one hand, and the victim on the other. If it is the convicted accused who asks for prevention, then he cannot validly do so. But if it is an accused who was subsequently got acquitted who invokes the application of the provision, then it is proper. The coverage of protection of Article 26 could not have been intended to extend to criminals. Article 26 prevents unjust humilitian. A person convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude may be humiliated, but it cannot be said to be unjust.