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The writ of habeas data can be availed of against STC even if it is not an entity
engaged in the business of gathering, collecting, or storing data or information
regarding the person, family, home and correspondence of the aggrieved party.
Political Law Constitutional Law Bill of Rights Right to Privacy Online
First, the Rule on Habeas Data does not state that it can be applied only in cases of
Privacy (Social Media) extralegal killings or enforced disappearances. Second, nothing in the Rule would
Remedial Law Special Proceedings Writ of Habeas Data suggest that the habeas data protection shall be available only against abuses of a
person or entity engaged in the business of gathering, storing, and collecting of data.
Right to Privacy on Social Media (Online Networking Sites)
The Supreme Court ruled that if an online networking site (ONS) like Facebook has
In January 2012, Angela Tan, a high school student at St. Theresas College (STC), privacy tools, and the user makes use of such privacy tools, then he or she has
uploaded on Facebook several pictures of her and her classmates (Nenita Daluz and a reasonable expectation of privacy (right to informational privacy, that is). Thus,
Julienne Suzara) wearing only their undergarments. such privacy must be respected and protected.
Thereafter, some of their classmates reported said photos to their teacher, Mylene In this case, however, there is no showing that the students concerned made use of
Escudero. Escudero, through her students, viewed and downloaded said pictures. such privacy tools. Evidence would show that that their post (status) on Facebook
She showed the said pictures to STCs Discipline-in-Charge for appropriate action. were published as Public.
Later, STC found Tan et al to have violated the students handbook and banned them Facebook has the following settings to control as to who can view a users posts on
from marching in their graduation ceremonies scheduled in March 2012. his wall (profile page):
The issue went to court but despite a TRO (temporary restraining order) granted by (a) Public the default setting; every Facebook user can view the photo;
the Cebu RTC enjoining the school from barring the students in the graduation
ceremonies, STC still barred said students. (b) Friends of Friends only the users Facebook friends and their friends can view
the photo;
Subsequently, Rhonda Vivares, mother of Nenita, and the other mothers filed a
petition for the issuance of the writ of habeas data against the school. They argued, (c) Friends only the users Facebook friends can view the photo;
among others, that: (d) Custom the photo is made visible only to particular friends and/or networks of
1. The privacy setting of their childrens Facebook accounts was set at Friends Only. the Facebook user; and
They, thus, have a reasonable expectation of privacy which must be respected. (e) Only Me the digital image can be viewed only by the user.
2. The photos accessed belong to the girls and, thus, cannot be used and The default setting is Public and if a user wants to have some privacy, then he must
reproduced without their consent. Escudero, however, violated their rights by saving choose any setting other than Public. If it is true that the students concerned did set
digital copies of the photos and by subsequently showing them to STCs officials. the posts subject of this case so much so that only five people can see them (as they
Thus, the Facebook accounts of the children were intruded upon; claim), then how come most of their classmates were able to view them. This fact was
3. The intrusion into the Facebook accounts, as well as the copying of information, not refuted by them. In fact, it was their classmates who informed and showed their
data, and digital images happened at STCs Computer Laboratory; teacher, Escudero, of the said pictures. Therefore, it appears that Tan et al never use
the privacy settings of Facebook hence, they have no reasonable expectation of
They prayed that STC be ordered to surrender and deposit with the court all soft and privacy on the pictures of them scantily clad.
printed copies of the subject data and have such data be declared illegally obtained in
violation of the childrens right to privacy. STC did not violate the students right to privacy. The manner which the school
gathered the pictures cannot be considered illegal. As it appears, it was the
The Cebu RTC eventually denied the petition. Hence, this appeal. classmates of the students who showed the picture to their teacher and the latter,
ISSUE: Whether or not the petition for writ of habeas data is proper. being the recipient of said pictures, merely delivered them to the proper school
authority and it was for a legal purpose, that is, to discipline their students according
HELD: Yes, it is proper but in this case, it will not prosper. to the standards of the school (to which the students and their parents agreed to in
the first place because of the fact that they enrolled their children there).
Contrary to the arguments of STC, the Supreme Court ruled that:
1. The petition for writ of habeas data can be availed of even if this is not a case of
extralegal killing or enforced disappearance; and Read full text
Some notable foreign jurisprudence used by the Supreme Court in this case:
1. United States v. Gines-Perez: A person who places a photograph on the Internet
precisely intends to forsake and renounce all privacy rights to such imagery,
particularly under circumstances such as here, where the Defendant did not employ
protective measures or devices that would have controlled access to the Web page or
the photograph itself.
2. United States v. Maxwell: The more open the method of transmission is, the less
privacy one can reasonably expect. Messages sent to the public at large in the chat
room or e-mail that is forwarded from correspondent to correspondent loses any
semblance of privacy.
3. H v. W, (South Africa Case dated January 30, 2013): The law has to take into
account the changing realities not only technologically but also socially or else it will
lose credibility in the eyes of the people. x x x It is imperative that the courts respond
appropriately to changing times, acting cautiously and with wisdom.
This case recognized this ability of Facebook users to customize their privacy
settings, but did so with this caveat: Facebook states in its policies that, although it
makes every effort to protect a users information, these privacy settings are not

GRACE POE vs. COMELEC the child born in the Philippines would be a Filipino which in turn, would
The Case indicate more than ample probability that Poes parents are Filipinos.
Grace Poe was found abandoned as a newborn infant in the Parish Church of
Jaro, Iloilo by Edgardo Militar in 1968. Parental care and custody over her Other circumstantial evidence of the nationality of Poes parents are the fact
was passed on by Edgardo to his relatives, Emiliano Militar and his wife. that:
Emiliano reported and registered Grace Poe as a foundling with the Office of 1. She was abandoned in a Roman Catholic Church in Iloilo
the Civil Registrar of Iloilo City. Fenando Poe, Jr. and Susan Roces adopted 2. She has typical Filipino features.
Grace Poe.
1991 Poe went to the US to be a permanent resident therein There are disputable presumptions that things have happened according to
2001 She became a naturalized US citizen the ordinary course of nature. On this basis, it is safer to assume that Poes
First quarter of 2005 she came back to the Philippines to permanently parents are Filipinos. To assume otherwise is to accept the absurd.
reside herein
February 14, 2006- she went back to the US to dispose family belongings
July 18, 2006 she re-acquired Filipino citizenship Legislation
According to Poe in her 2013 COC for Senator, before the May 13, Foundlings are as a class, natural born citizens.
2013 election, she has been a resident of the Philippines for 6 years and 6 The amendment to the Constitution proposed by constitutionalist Rafols to
months (reckoned from year 2006 when she re-acquired her Filipino include foundlings as natural born citizens was not carried out, not because
citizenship under RA 9225). there was any objection to the notion that persons of unknown parentage are
Poe filed her COC for Presidency for the May 9, 2016 elections (hence, not citizens, but only because their number was not enough to merit specific
computing from May, 2013, she has been a resident in the Philippines for 9 mention. There was no intent or language that would permit discrimination
years and 6 months only) against foundlings. On the contrary, all three Constitutions guarantee the
However, in her COC, Poe declared that she is a natural born and her basic right to equal protection of the laws.
residence in the Philippine up to the day before election would be 10 years Likewise, domestic laws on adoption support the principle that foundlings
and 11 months counted from May 24, 2005 (when she returned from the are Filipinos. These laws do not provide that adoption confers citizenship
US to the Philippines for good). upon the adoptee, rather, the adoptee must be Filipino in the first place to be
RULING OF THE SUPREME COURT Recent legislation all expressly refer to Filipino children and include
Poe is qualified to be a candidate for President in the National and Local foundlings as among Filipino children who may be adopted.
Election on May 9, 2016.

1) Is Poe, a foundling, a natural-born citizen? Yes, based on: Generally accepted principles of international law
a) Circumstantial evidence The common thread of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
b) Legislation the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International
c) Generally accepted principles of international law Convent on Civil and Political Rightsobligates the Philippines to grant
nationality from birth and to ensure that no child is stateless. The principles
stated in the:
1. Hague Convention on Certain Questions Relation to the Conflict of
Circumstantial evidence
Nationality laws (that a foundling is presumed to have the nationality of the
There is more than sufficient evidence that Poe has Filipino parents and is
country of birth)
therefore a natural-born Filipino. xxx. [T]here is a high probability that her
2. Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness (foundling is presumed born
parents are Filipinos. The Solicitor General offered official Statistics from the
of citizens of the country where he is found)
Philippine Statistics office that from 1965 to 1975, the total number of
bind the Philippines although we are not signatory to these conventions.
foreigners born in the Philippines was 15,985. While the Filipinos born in the
country were more than 10 Million. On this basis, there is a 99% chance that
Poes evidence shows that at least 60 countries in Asia, North and South lawyers in 2015 that residence could be counted from 25 May 2005. Such a
America and Europe have passed legislation recognizing foundlings as its mistake could be given in evidence against her but it was by no means
citizens. 166 out of 189 countries accept that foundlings are recognized as conclusive considering the overwhelming evidence submitted by Poe.
citizens. Hence, there is a generally accepted principle of international law to
presume foundlings as having been born and a national of the country in
which it is found.

2) After renouncing her American citizenship and after having taken her Oath
of Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines, has Poe re-acquired her
status as a natural-born Filipino citizen? Yes, Poes repatriation
resulted to reacquisition of natural born citizenship.

A natural born citizen before he lost his Philippine nationality will be

restored to his former status as natural born Filipino after
repatriation (Benson v. HRET, Pareno v. Commission on Audit etc).

3) Has Poe satisfied the 10 year residency requirement? Yes, she will have
been a resident for 10 years and 11 months on the day of the

[T]here is overwhelming evidence that leads to no to other conclusion that

Poe decided to permanently abandon her US residence and reside in the
Philippines as early as May 24, 2005.

Poe presented voluminous evidence showing that she and her family
abandoned their US domicile and relocated to the Philippines for good. These
evidence include former US passport showing her arrival on May 24, 2005
and her return to the Philippines every time she travelled abroad, email
correspondences with freight company to arrange for the shipment of
household items as well as with the pet Bureau; school records of her
children showing enrolment in the Philippine to the Philippine schools
starting on June 2005 etc. xxx These evidence, coupled with her eventual
application to reacquire Philippine citizenship is clear that when she returned
in May 2005, it was for good.

Poe was able to prove that her statement in her 2013 COC was only a mistake
in good faith. As explained by Grace Poe, she misunderstood the date
required in the 2013 COC as the period of residence as of the day she
submitted that COC in 2012. She said that she reckoned residency from
April-May 2006 which was the period when the U.S. house was sold and her
husband returned to the Philippines. In that regard, she was advised by her
Grace Poe vs COMELEC Issue 1: W/N the COMELEC has jurisdiction to rule on the issue of
(Case Digest: GR 221697, GR 221698-700 March 8, 2016) qualifications of candidates (Read Dissent)
Facts: Held:
In her COC for presidency for the May 2016 elections, Grace Poe No. Article IX-C, Sec 2 of the Constitution provides for the powers and
declared that she is a natural-born citizen and that her residence in the functions of the COMELEC, and deciding on the qualifications or lack
Philippines up to the day before 9 May 2016 would be 10 years and 11 thereof of a candidate is not one among them.
months counted from 24 May 2005.
In contrast, the Constitution provides that only the SET and HRET
May 24, 2005 was the day she came to the Philippines after deciding to tribunals have sole jurisdiction over the election contests, returns, and
stay in the PH for good. Before that however, and even afterwards, she qualifications of their respective members, whereas over the President
has been going to and fro between US and Philippines. She was born in and Vice President, only the SC en banc has sole jurisdiction. As for
1968, found as newborn infant in Iloilo, and was legally adopted. She the qualifications of candidates for such positions, the Constitution is
immigrated to the US in 1991 and was naturalized as American citizen in silent. There is simply no authorized proceeding in determining
2001. On July 18, 2006, the BI granted her petition declaring that she the ineligibility of candidates before elections. Such lack of provision
had reacquired her Filipino citizenship under RA 9225. She registered as cannot be supplied by a mere rule, and for the COMELEC to assimilate
a voter and obtained a new Philippine passport. In 2010, before grounds for ineligibility into grounds for disqualification in Rule 25 in its
assuming her post as an appointed chairperson of the MTRCB, she rules of procedures would be contrary to the intent of the Constitution.
renounced her American citizenship to satisfy the RA 9225 requirement .
From then on, she stopped using her American passport. Hence, the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion when it
decided on the qualification issue of Grace as a candidate in the same
Petitions were filed before the COMELEC to deny or cancel her case for cancellation of her COC.
candidacy on the ground particularly, among others, that she cannot be
considered a natural-born Filipino citizen since she cannot prove that her Issue 2: W/N Grace Poe-Llamanzares is a natural-born Filipino citizen (Read
biological parents or either of them were Filipinos. The COMELEC en Dissent)
banc cancelled her candidacy on the ground that she is in want of Held:
citizenship and residence requirements, and that she committed material Yes, Grace Poe might be and is considerably a natural-born Filipino. For
misrepresentations in her COC. that, she satisfies one of the constitutional requirements that only natural-
born Filipinos may run for presidency.
On certiorari, the SC reversed the ruling and held (9-6 votes) that Poe is
qualified as a candidate for Presidency. Three justices, however, First, there is a high probability that Grace Poes parents are Filipinos.
abstained to vote on the natural-born citizenship issue. Her physical features are typical of Filipinos. The fact that she was
abandoned as an infant in a municipality where the population of the resident visa or reacquires her Filipino citizenship is without merit. Such
Philippines is overwhelmingly Filipinos such that there would be more cases are different from the circumstances in this case, in which Grace
than 99% chance that a child born in such province is a Filipino is also a Poe presented an overwhelming evidence of her actual stay and intent to
circumstantial evidence of her parents nationality. That probability and abandon permanently her domicile in the US. Coupled with her eventual
the evidence on which it is based are admissible under Rule 128, Section application to reacquire Philippine citizenship and her familys actual
4 of the Revised Rules on Evidence. To assume otherwise is to accept continuous stay in the Philippines over the years, it is clear that when
the absurd, if not the virtually impossible, as the norm. Grace Poe returned on May 24, 2005, it was for good.

Second, by votes of 7-5, the SC pronounced that foundlings are as a class, Issue 4: W/N the Grace Poes candidacy should be denied or cancelled for
natural-born citizens. This is based on the finding that the deliberations of committing material misrepresentations in her COC
the 1934 Constitutional Convention show that the framers intended Held:
foundlings to be covered by the enumeration. While the 1935 Constitutions No. The COMELEC cannot cancel her COC on the ground that she
enumeration is silent as to foundlings, there is no restrictive language which misrepresented facts as to her citizenship and residency because such
would definitely exclude foundlings either. Because of silence and facts refer to grounds for ineligibility in which the COMELEC has no
ambiguity in the enumeration with respect to foundlings, the SC felt the jurisdiction to decide upon. Only when there is a prior authority finding
need to examine the intent of the framers. that a candidate is suffering from a disqualification provided by law or the
Third, that foundlings are automatically conferred with natural-born Constitution that the COMELEC may deny due course or cancel her
citizenship is supported by treaties and the general principles of candidacy on ground of false representations regarding her qualifications.
international law. Although the Philippines is not a signatory to some of
these treaties, it adheres to the customary rule to presume foundlings as In this case, by authority of the Supreme Court Grace Poe is now
having born of the country in which the foundling is found. pronounced qualified as a candidate for the presidency. Hence, there
cannot be any false representations in her COC regarding her citizenship
Issue 3: W/N Grace Poe satisfies the 10-year residency requirement and residency. ##
Yes. Grace Poe satisfied the requirements of animus manendi coupled Carpio Dissent (Highlights): Foundlings are Deemed Naturalized Filipino
with animus revertendi in acquiring a new domicile. Citizens
Brion Dissent (Highlights): COMELECs Broad Quasi-Judicial Power
Grace Poes domicile had been timely changed as of May 24, 2005, and Includes the Determination of a Candidates Eligibility
not on July 18, 2006 when her application under RA 9225 was approved
by the BI. COMELECs reliance on cases which decree that an aliens
stay in the country cannot be counted unless she acquires a permanent