[Mirror] Gonzalbo, Kathleen

SY 2011-2012, Second Semester

OPINION: If the government of the Philippines in this regime would publish a law in http://www.gov.ph would that satisfy E.O. No. 200 in relation to the case of Tañada vs. Tuvera

Before we go any further and try to answer the issue presented in this case we should first know what an Official Gazette is. The Official Gazette was created on June 14, 1941 under Commonwealth Act No. 638 (“An Act to Provide for the Uniform Publication and Distribution of the Official Gazette”) it is edited under the Office of the President of the Philippines. Executive Order No. 200 of 1987 issued by President Corazon C. Aquino states 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” and on July 26, 2010, the online version of the Official Gazette was launched.

Under Section 1 of Commonwealth Act No. 638, the Official Gazette includes: All important legislative acts and resolutions of a public nature of the Congress of the Philippines; all executive and administrative orders and proclamations, except such as have no general applicability; decisions or abstracts of decisions of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals as may be deemed by said courts of sufficient importance to be so published; such documents or classes of documents as may be required so to be published by law; and such documents or classes of documents as the President of the Philippines shall determine from time to time to have general applicability and legal effect, or which he may authorize so to be published.

In a given problem it was stated that the Office of the President issued an Executive Order in the Official Gazette and as to its electronic forms it was published in http://www.gov.ph. The main issue in this case now runs after the question “If the government of the Philippines in this regime would publish a law in http://www.gov.ph would that satisfy Article. 2 as amended (E.O. No. 200) in relation to the case of Tañada vs. Tuvera”.

In connection therefore with the given question it is most suitable to say that this satisfies the provision laid under Executive Order No. 200. In Tañada vs. Tuvera were the main issue of the case is to where the publication must be made, should it be in the official gazette? The Supreme Court held that pursuant to the Civil Code under Article 2 and the Revised Administrative Code publication must be effected in the Official Gazette and not in any other medium. However, this ruling has entailed some problems like its irregular release and it could only be seen by a limited number of people. Because of this the creation of Executive Order No. 200 was passed by the former President Corazon Aquino, this amends Article 2 of the Civil Code (R.A. 386). Pursuant to this law, publication of laws may now be in the official gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines.

The fact that the law is already published in the Official Gazette makes the publication in http://www.gov.ph valid and binding under E.O. No. 200. It is of course in a different view if there was a publication made in their official website when no law has yet been published in the official gazette which makes it invalid and does not follow the provisions provided for in E.O. No. 200. It was also made clear under the provision of Republic Act No. 8792 (Electronic Commerce Act) Section 7 on Legal Recognition of Electronic Documents. Electronic documents shall have the legal effect, validity or enforceability as any other document or legal writing and for evidentiary purposes an electronic document shall be the functional equivalent of a written document under existing laws.

Technology and the Law

As laid down in the situation of the case before us, about a case that reached the Supreme Court wherein upon the latter Court’s decision which will be publish and available to the website, the loser litigant on the reason that it is a prejudicial decision is requesting that his name be removed in the website’s publication for he invokes that it violates his right to privacy. The following questions are raised: 1) Can he (the loser litigant) remove his name on the case for the reason that it violates his privacy rights?; 2) Can he (the loser litigant) require for the removal of his name?; 3) Can he (The loser litigant) ask for the removal of his name in the whole decision publish in the website?.

In the case in question it is believed that the losing litigant can no longer remove or stricken his name in a case which is already decided and is to be publish in the website of the Honorable Supreme Court. The mere fact that the case was brought in Court for trial and reached the Highest Court of the land simply means that it has to be made and is already made known in public. Therefore the loser litigant has no right to raised the issue that it is a prejudicial decision and asking for the removal of his name for this violates his privacy rights. As provided for in article III of the 1987 constitution sections 3 and 7 states that: Section 3. (1) 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. (2) Any evidenced obtained in violation of this or the preceding section shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding; Section 7. grants Filipinos the right to gain access to “information on matters of public concern 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.

The privacy rights of the loser litigant in this case is not violated by mere publishing of the Court’s decision on its official website. For a long time it was and has always been a tradition and the practice of the Court to compile and made known to the public the decisions made by the highest Court through its Supreme Court Rules Annotated or as abbreviated and known to us as “ SCRA “ and as the technology arises the Supreme Court website were created for a more convenient and easy access to the decisions and jurisprudence made by the highest Court.

Although there is no law yet enacted on “ right of the people to information”, it is well emphasized in Senate Bill No. 3273 which is an “ ACT PROVIDING A MECHANISM TO IMPLEMENT THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO INFORMATION ON MATTERS OF PUBLIC CONCERN GUARANTEED UNDER SECTION SEVEN ARTICLE THREE OF THE 1987 CONSTITUTION AND THE STATE POLICY OF FULL PUBLIC DISCLOSURE OF ALL ITS TRANSACTIONS INVOLVING PUBLIC INTEREST UNDER SECTION TWENTY EIGHT ARTICLE TWO OF THE 1987 CONSTITUTION AND FOR THE PURPOSES “. Through this the losing litigant in this case cannot remove his name in the decision made by the Court and his defense of invoking his privacy rights is immaterial and it clearly violates the right of other people to information wherein matters of public concern must be recognized.

For the question if the loser litigant can ask for the removal of his name in the whole decision publish in the website, is of the negative. As earlier stated the loser litigant cannot and has no right to remove his name in the whole decision for this might result to confusion on the part of the person who will read the aforesaid decision and it is only made to appear that it is not the true and exact content of the case decided by the Court. It also shows an unfair treatment to other parties who are also included in the case and as a whole to other parties and losing litigant of all the cases already decided and published by the Supreme Court in their “SCRA’s” and website, if this scenario will happen.

Technology and the Law

Whether the search and seizure made on airport passengers even if valid can go through the contents of an individuals laptop or other electronic devices.

As this issue were brought before us three questions are herein raised: First, can the immigration do a search on the electronic documents of one’s laptop?; Second, is the search valid? And Third, can they (the immigration) open your laptop or other electronic devices which forms part of your personal belongings containing electronic documents?.

Search and seizure is the gathering of evidence, wherein the law enforcement may conduct a search of a person or premises to find a tangible evidence for presentation of trial. In my position the immigration has no right to go over and search for the electronic document’s of one’s laptop for this violates Article III Section 2 The Bill of Rights under the 1997 constitution which reads “ 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 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.”

The search is not valid for you cannot compel a passenger to open their laptop and show its contents without a valid warrant and for the very reason that it violates their privacy rights. Although the airport authorities has their reason why they have to search on certain electronic documents contained in a laptop or other electronic devices still it is invalid and the privacy rights of an individual is solely violated. Warrant less or unreasonable laptop seizure is indeed very inconvenient to passengers, for the reason that the passengers have to wait for a couple of minutes or hours to get their electronic devices, while the authorities review and at times copy its contents. Warrant less laptop seizure may also serve as a threat to business traveller’s and to those public and private officials, wherein their laptop or electronic devices which contains a very confidential information can be seen, copied and entered to the immigration’s computer system which might cause an unstable situation and at worst extreme danger not only to this officials and business traveller’s but also to all the passengers who will be undergoing this procedure.

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