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The Complete Philippine Right to Privacy (Oscar Franklin Tan, 82[4] Phil LJ 78 [2008])

The Complete Philippine Right to Privacy (Oscar Franklin Tan, 82[4] Phil LJ 78 [2008])

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 A 
RTICULATING THE
C
OMPLETE
P
HILIPPINE
IGHT TO
P
RIVACY IN
C
ONSTITUTIONAL AND
C
IVIL
L
 AW
: AT
RIBUTE TO
C
HIEF
 J
USTICE
F
ERNANDO AND
 J
USTICE
C
 ARPIO
*
Oscar Franklin B. Tan 
** 
“The stand for privacy, however, need not be taken as hostility against other individuals, against government,or against society. It is but an assertion by the individual of his inviolate personality.” 
 —Dean and Justice Irene Cortes
1
 
*
 This author acknowledgeshis professors: Justice Vicente V. Mendoza, Dean BartolomeCarale, Dean Merlin Magallona, Araceli Baviera, Domingo Disini, Carmelo Sison, MyrnaFeliciano, Eduardo Labitag, Emmanuel Fernando, Antonio Bautista, Elizabeth Aquiling-Pangalangan, Danilo Concepcion, Rogelio Vinluan, Teresita Herbosa, Rafael Morales, Vicente Amador, Sylvette Tankiang, Susan Villanueva, Francis Sobrevinas, Anacleto “Butch” Diaz,Rudyard Avila, H. Harry Roque, Concepcion Jardeleza, Antonio Santos, Patricia Daway, GwenGrecia-De Vera, JJ Disini, Barry Gutierrez, Florin Hilbay, Magnolia Mabel Movido, SolomonLumba, and Ed Robles, as well as his Harvard Law School professors Laurence Tribe, Frank Michelman, and Justice Richard Goldstone of the South African Constitutional Court. Thisauthor most especially Deans Pacifico Agabin and Raul Pangalangan who first encouraged him totake up legal writing during his freshman year. This author also thanks the following who reviewed and assisted in finalizing this article:Gerard Joseph Jumamil, Bo Tiojanco, Leandro Aguirre, John Fajardo, Joseph Valmonte, MiguelFrancisco Cruz, Mark Garrido, and Romualdo Menzon Jr. All errors remain the author’s alone.
**
Chair, P
HILIPPINE
L
 AW 
 J
OURNAL
(2005). Associate (International Capital Markets), Allen& OveryLLP London. LL.M., Harvard Law School (Commencement Speaker) (2007). LL.B.,University of the Philippines (2005). B.S. Management Engineering / A.B. Economics Honors, Ateneo de Manila University (2001).First Violeta Calvo-Drilon-ACCRALAW Scholar for Legal Writing (2004). First Freshmanand First Two-Time Awardee, Justice Irene R. Cortes Prize for Best Paper in Constitutional Law (2002, 2005). Professor Myres S. McDougal Prize for Best Paper in Public International Law and Jurisprudence (2005). First Awardee, Justice Vicente V. Mendoza Prize for Best Critical Analysisof a Supreme Court Decision (2005). First Awardee, Professor Gonzalo T. Santos, Jr. Prize forBest Paper in Securities Law (2005). First awardee, Professor Bienvenido C. Ambion Prize forBestPaper in Private International Law (2004). Professor Esteban B. Bautista Prize for BestPaper in Intellectual Property Law (2005). Awardee, Professor Araceli T. Baviera Prize for BestPaper in Civil Law (2003).
1
I
RENE
C
ORTES
 ,
 T
HE
C
ONSTITUTIONAL
F
OUNDATIONS OF
P
RIVACY 
1(UP Law Center,1970). Adapted from the second of the Albino Z. SyCip Lecture Series delivered at the University of the Philippines College of Law, Feb. 21 and 28, 1970.
78
 
2008]C
OMPLETE
P
HILIPPINE
IGHT TO
P
RIVACY 
79
“Political, social, and economic changes entail the recognition of new rights, and the common law, in its eternal youth, grows to meet the demands of society.” 
 —Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis
2
“Of all the rights of the citizen, few are of greater importance or more essential to his peace and happiness than… exemption of his private affairs,books, and papers from the inspection and scrutiny of others. Without the enjoyment of this right, all other rights would lose half of their value.” 
 —Justice Stephen Johnson Field
3
“If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.” 
 —DILG Secretary Angelo Reyes
4
I.I
NTRODUCTION
 A.
EFLECTIONS
 Justice Vicente V. Mendoza enjoys repeating that “law has two elements:logic and rhetoric. … [L]ogic forms the bedrock of our jurisprudence, but it isrhetoric that makes Constitutional Law so potent and so seductive. That is, hecautioned, one must read cases with great care, lest one be ensorcelled by therhetoric and miss the actual logic.”
5
No Philippine law student hurdles freshman year without reading landmark privacy decisions and some of the most passionate prose in our jurisprudence, ashort but eloquent line of cases from
 Morfe v. Mutuc 
to
Ople v. Torres 
that clothe thisupstart right with its ancient peers’ majesty. However, despite tracing its pedigreethrough judicial deities from Justice and Dean Irene Cortes toChief Justice ReynatoPuno, the Philippine right to privacy taken as a whole is marred by inconsistencies,
2
The Right to Privacy 
,4 H
 ARV 
.L.R 
EV 
.193 (1890).
3
In Re Pacific Ry. Comm’n, 32 F. 241, 250 (Cir.Ct. N.D.Cal. 1887),
quoted in 
Robert Palsley,
Privacy Rights v. Anti-Money Laundering Enforcement 
, 6 N.C.B
 ANKING
I
NST
.147, 149 (2002). JusticeField was appointed to the United States Supreme Court in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln, where he served for thirty-four years and six months, the longest in that Court’s history.
4
Sec. of Dep’t of Interior and Local Gov’t Angelo Reyes,
quoted in 
Gil Cabacungan, Jr. &Christine Avendano,
Palace sees no stumbling block to nat’l ID system 
, P
HIL
.D
 AILY 
I
NQUIRER 
, Feb. 19,2005, at A21.
5
Oscar Franklin Tan, Foreword,
Sisyphus’ Lament, Part IV: Style and the Seduction of the Supreme Court 
, 79 P
HIL
.L.J.876, 876 (2004).
6
G.R. No. 20387, 22 SCRA 424, Jan. 31, 1968.
7
G.R. No. 127685, 293 SCRA 141, Jul. 23, 1998.
 
80
P
HILIPPINE
L
 AW 
 J
OURNAL
[V 
OL
82
gaps and self-contradictions. The right to privacy’s significance has been underscored in countlessseemingly unrelated issues in the past years, and most recently by the HumanSecurity Act of 2007.
8
Given the stakes, libertarians should fear not merely being ensorcelled by rhetoric, but being left to stave off the barbarians at the gates withbut a confused constitutional right that currently has a loud bark but a feeble bite. This excerpt from the 2006 ruling 
In re Habeas Corpus of Camilo L. Sabio
may be an example of self-contradiction in an immediate sense:
 This goes to show that the right to privacy is not absolute where there isan overriding 
compelling state interest
. In
 Morfe v. Mutuc,
the Court, in line with
Whalen v. Roe,
employed the rational basis relationship test when it heldthat there was no infringement of the individual’s right to privacy as therequirement to disclosure information is for a valid purpose…. (emphasis inthe original and internal citations omitted)
10
Note that “compelling state interest” and “rational basis” pertain to twodifferent and mutually exclusive levels of scrutiny. Another 2006 ruling,
 Ejercito v. Sandiganbayan,
11
featured a dissent thatdiscussed
Katz v. United States 
12 
and the right to privacy arising from the right againstunreasonable search. The same dissent went on to invoke the right to privacy arising from substantive due process, citing the
Roe v. Wade 
13
line. The latter arerulings on what is called decisional privacy, which deals with personal autonomy and is irrelevant to the disclosure of financial information addressed by 
 Ejercito
. There are more fundamental inconsistencies. Returning to the very beginning, consider that
 Morfe 
cites
Griswold v. Connecticut,
14
a case that decided whether a married couple could be prohibited from using contraceptives.
 Morfe,
however, decided whether a public officer may be required to disclose his assets andliabilities under oath.
Griswold 
did not deal with information’s disclosure, and it is amere shift in rhetoric but not logic to highlight the choice quote: “Would we allow the police to search the sacred precincts of marital bedrooms for telltale signs of theuse of contraceptives?”
15
 Turning this inconsistency on its head, however, the rightto privacy appeared in the 2003 decision
 Estrada v. Escritor,
16 
 which dealt withchoosing to cohabit with someone other than one’s spouse under a religious sect’s
8
Rep. Act No. 9372 (2007).
9
G.R. No. 174340, 504 SCRA 704, Oct. 17, 2006.
10
Id.
at 738.
11
G.R. No. 157294, 509 SCRA 191, Nov. 30, 2006.
12
389 U.S. 347 (1967).
13
410 U.S. 113 (1973).
14
381 U.S. 479 (1965).
15
Id.
at 485.
16
 A.M. No. P-02-1651, 408 SCRA 1, Aug. 4, 2003.

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