SY 2011-2012, Second Semester
- Publication satisfied??
- Equality to Invoke the Right to Privacy
- If You Don’t Like My Policy, Then Get Out of My House!!!
Nothing is constant in this world but change. We are trying to modernize everything. Trying to keep up with the changes and as consequence we are facing different questions on the effects of such. Last July 2010, in order to keep up with the on going modernization, the Office of the President launches a digital version of the Official Gazette. Also, President Benigno S. Aquino III promulgated Executive Order No. 4 entitled ” REORGANIZING AND RENAMING THE OFFICE OF THE PRESS SECRETARY AS THE PRESIDENTIAL COMMUNICATIONS OPERATIONS OFFICE; CREATING THE PRESIDENTIAL COMMUNICATIONS DEVELOPMENT AND STRATEGIC PLANNING OFFICE; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.” Under such order, the Office of the Press Secretary shall be reorganized and renamed as the Presidential Communications Operations Office which shall be headed by the Presidential Communications and Operations Head who shall have the rank of Cabinet Secretary with all the corresponding salaries, emoluments, and benefits.  And under the said office, THE PRESIDENTIAL COMMUNICATIONS DEVELOPMENT AND STRATEGIC PLANNING OFFICE MANAGEMENT is created and managed. Section 6 of E.O. No. 4, specifically paragraph (k) states that one of the function of THE PRESIDENTIAL COMMUNICATIONS DEVELOPMENT AND STRATEGIC PLANNING OFFICE MANAGEMENT is to Perform editorial functions for the Official Gazette. What does it mean? What is the implication of the promulgation of Executive Order No. 4? Is the posting of the law in the website of the Official Gazette of the Philippines satisfied the rules made by the Supreme Court in Tañada vs. Tuvera? I am of the opinion that it is the Negative. In the above cited case, the Supreme Court held that “Coming now to the original decision, it is true that only four justices were categorically for publication in the Official Gazette and that six others felt that publication could be made elsewhere as long as the people were sufficiently informed. One reserved his vote and another merely acknowledged the need for due publication without indicating where it should be made. It is therefore necessary for the present membership of this Court to arrive at a clear consensus on this matter and to lay down a binding decision supported by the necessary vote.
There is much to be said of the view that the publication need not be made in the Official Gazette, considering its erratic releases and limited readership. Undoubtedly, newspapers of general circulation could better perform the function of communicating, the laws to the people as such periodicals are more easily available, have a wider readership, and come out regularly. The trouble, though, is that this kind of publication is not the one required or authorized by existing law. As far as we know, no amendment has been made of Article 2 of the Civil Code. The Solicitor General has not pointed to such a law, and we have no information that it exists. If it does, it obviously has not yet been published.
At any rate, this Court is not called upon to rule upon the wisdom of a law or to repeal or modify it if we find it impractical. That is not our function. That function belongs to the legislature. Our task is merely to interpret and apply the law as conceived and approved by the political departments of the government in accordance with the prescribed procedure. Consequently, we have no choice but to pronounce that under Article 2 of the Civil Code, the publication of laws must be made in the Official Gazett and not elsewhere, as a requirement for their effectivity after fifteen days from such publication or after a different period provided by the legislature.”  And as a consequence, President Corazon Aquino promulgated Executive Order No. 200 amending Article 2, of the Civil Code of the Philippines stating that in order for the laws to be effective, it must be published either in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation in the country. First point, Executive Order No. 4 does not speak about the effects of the law posted/published in the website of the Official Gazette, Sec. 6 par.(k) only states that one of the function of THE PRESIDENTIAL COMMUNICATIONS DEVELOPMENT AND STRATEGIC PLANNING OFFICE MANAGEMENT is to perform editorial functions for the Official Gazette. Said executive order in not inconsistent with Article 2 of the Civil Code, hence, the latter is not impliedly or expressly amended/repealed. In effect, the publication requirement is still in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines. Second, it is of my opinion that the Legislative has the right to amend Article 2 of the Civil Code of the Philippines because the Police Power of the State is given to the said institution and if we want to have the posting/publishing in the website of the Official Gazette enough to satisfy the publication requirement, we must ask our representatives to make such law amending Art. 2 of the Civil Code and not by executive orders.
 Section 1, Executive Order No. 4, July 30, 2010
 Tañada vs. Tuvera, G.R. No. L-63915 December 29, 1986
There is nothing in the Bill of Rights under Article III of the 1987 Philippine Constitution that EXPRESSLY states the right to privacy. But, as the Highest Court of the land stated in the Case of Ople vs. Torres, G.R. No. 127685 July 23, 1998, it is enshrined in several provision of our Constitution such as Sec. 1, 2, 3(1), 6, 8, and 17 of Article III.
In the case of People of the Philippines vs. Cabalquinto, G.R. No. 167693 September 19, 2006, such right was invoked by the mother whose child is the rape victim, that the Supreme Court should refrain from posting in its Internet Web Page the full text of its decisions and 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 Page. The Supreme Court held that the Court shall withhold the real name of the victim-survivor and shall use fictitious initials instead to represent her.
Following the contention of the mother which persuaded the Supreme Court, I think we should not distinguish whether the person is the accused, the victim, the plaintiff, the defendant, a minor, of legal age, male or female because all of us have the right to privacy. Just because a person is accused of committing a felony doesn’t mean that he committed it, hence, he may be acquitted and because of that case, his/her reputation is prejudiced.
Therefore, I submit that a person may ask his name not to be stricken off (because of Rule 3, Sec. 2 and Rule 110, Sec. 6) but at least be substituted by fictitious initials to represent him/her from a Supreme Court Decisions, Website, Supreme Court Reports Annotated and other repositories by invoking the right to privacy.
When I was asked to give my comment with regard to the issue on whether the right to privacy of communication and correspondence (Par. 1, Sec. 3, Art. 3 of the 1987 Constitution) is violated when the contents of the laptop during the routine frisk at the airport, reminds me of what my mom used to tell every time I broke the house rules or did something wrong. She always tells me that “if you can’t follow or don’t like the rules in our house, the door is always open and leave.” Huh?! So what?! What’s the relation?! I’ll explain.
It has been held in a long line of cases decided by the Supreme Court like People vs. Suzuki, G.R. No. 120670. October 23, 2003 that one of the exceptions to unreasonable searches and seizure is the search conducted pursuant to routine airport security procedure. The Highest Court of the land in the said case stated that “Persons may lose the protection of the search and seizure clause by exposure of their persons or property to the public in a manner reflecting a lack of subjective expectation of privacy, which expectation society is prepared to recognize as reasonable. Such recognition is implicit in airport security procedures. With increased concern over airplane hijacking and terrorism has come increased security at the nation’s airports. Passengers attempting to board an aircraft routinely pass through metal detectors; their carry-on baggage as well as checked luggage are routinely subjected to x-ray 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. Indeed, travelers are often notified through airport public address systems, signs and notices in their airline tickets that they are subject to search and, if any prohibited materials or substances are found, such would be subject to seizure. These announcements place passengers on notice that ordinary constitutional protections against warrantless searches and seizures do not apply to routine airport procedures.”
Search conducted pursuant to routine airport security procedure is one of the exceptions in Par. 1, Sec. 3, Art. 3 of the 1987 Constitution (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 is no doubt that content of the passenger’s laptop/computer falls under the abovementioned provision of the 1987 Constitution in relation with the rules on electronic evidence (A.M. No. 01-7-01-SC) hence, it can be subjected to a warrantless search.
In relation to what my mom always tells me, all Airports have policy and laws that they should follow for the safety of their passenger and for their business. One of which is to have all passengers be searched before going in and out of the airport. If the passenger don’t want to be searched specifically his laptop/computer and its contents, he may opt not to bring one or don’t even go there and avail their services. Another option is to bring the laptop/computer and make sure that you don’t have something illegal in it. Basically what I’m saying is… “If you can’t follow or don’t like the rules in our house, the door is always open for you to leave.”