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Case Title Gamboa v.

G.R. no. G.R. No. 193636,
Main Topic Right to Privacy
Other Related Topic • Writ of Habeas Data
Date: 24 July 2012

President GMA issued Admin. Order 275: "The Zeñarosa Commission" to address the alleged existence
of Private Armies (PAG) esp. in Zamboanga.
Chan is one of the PNP officers who investigated Mayor Gamboa, who was alleged to have PAGs.
Pursuant to AO 275, the Commission could INVESTIGATE, and could deputize the PNP to aid in
investigation. --- AO 275 tasked the Zeñarosa Commission to investigate the existence of private armies
Administrative Code of 1987."---
Problem is: the information on GAMBOA and her private armies was leaked to the news. ABS-CBN
broadcasted on its news program, naming Gamboa as one of the politicians alleged to be maintaining a PAG.
She claims she was harassed, humiliated. - The cause of the leak is not important.
- Gamboa does NOT assail AO 275 either.
- Gamboa's issue is: the GATHERING and FORWARDING of UNVERIFIED INFORMATION, she claims,
is a violation of her RIGHT TO PRIVACY. Therefore, she filed for the issuance of WRIT OF HABEAS
DATA to:
- destroy all unverified info in PNP database
- withdraw all info forwarded to higher officials
- Rectify damage to her honor
- Restrain respondents from making baseless reports

Gamboa alleged that the Philippine National Police in Ilocos Norte (PNP–Ilocos Norte) conducted a series
of surveillance operations against her and her aides, and classified her as someone who keeps a Private
Army Group (PAG). Purportedly without the benefit of data verification, PNP–Ilocos Norte forwarded the
information gathered on her to the Zeñarosa Commission, thereby causing her inclusion in the Report’s
enumeration of individuals maintaining PAGs.
Contending that her right to privacy was violated and her reputation maligned and destroyed, Gamboa
filed a Petition for the issuance of a writ of habeas data against respondents in their capacities as officials
of the PNP-Ilocos Norte.

W/N the petition for the issuance of "writ of habeas data" is proper when the right to privacy is invoked
as opposed to the state’s interest in preserving the right to life, liberty or security.

NO. Writ of Habeas Data cannot be used in this situation.
The writ of habeas data is an independent and "summary remedy" or "extraordinary remedy" designed to
protect the image, privacy, honor, information, and freedom of information of an individual, and to provide
a forum to enforce one’s right to the truth and to informational privacy.
It seeks to protect a person’s right to control information regarding oneself, particularly in instances in
which such information is being collected through unlawful means in order to achieve unlawful ends. It
must be emphasized that in order for the privilege of the writ to be granted, there must exist a nexus
between the right to privacy on the one hand, and the right to life, liberty or security on the other.
The Right to Privacy

The right to privacy, as an inherent concept of liberty, has long been recognized as a constitutional right. This
Court, in Morfe v. Mutuc:

The due process question, touching on an alleged deprivation of liberty as thus resolved, goes a long way
in disposing of the objections raised by plaintiff, that the provision on the periodical submission of a sworn
statement of assets and liabilities is violative of the constitutional right to privacy…. There is much to be
said for this view of Justice Douglas: "Liberty in the constitutional sense must mean more than freedom
from unlawful governmental restraint; it must include privacy as well, if it is to be a repository of freedom.
The right to be let alone is indeed the beginning of all freedom." As a matter of fact, this right to be let
alone is, to quote from Mr. Justice Brandeis "the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued
by civilized men." XXX

In the leading case of Griswold v. Connecticut, Justice Douglas, speaking for five members of the Court,
stated: "Various guarantees create zones of privacy…”(etcetc, daming sinabi pero US versions) and
"These cases bear witness that the right of privacy which presses for recognition is a legitimate one." XXX

In our jurisdiction, the right to privacy as such is accorded recognition independently of its identification
with liberty; in itself, it is fully deserving of constitutional protection.

In Ople v. Torres, this Court traced the constitutional and statutory bases of the right to privacy in Philippine
jurisdiction in BOR Sec.3(1), Sec.1, 2, 6, 8, and 17… Zones of privacy are likewise recognized and
protected in our laws. The Civil Code provides that "every person shall respect the dignity, personality,
privacy and peace of mind of his neighbors and other persons" and punishes as actionable torts several acts
by a person of meddling and prying into the privacy of another. It also holds a public officer or employee or any
private individual liable for damages for any violation of the rights and liberties of another person, and
recognizes the privacy of letters and other private communications. The Revised Penal Code makes a crime
the violation of secrets by an officer, the revelation of trade and industrial secrets, and trespass to dwelling.
Invasion of privacy is an offense in special laws like the Anti-Wiretapping Law, the Secrecy of Bank Deposits
Act and the Intellectual Property Code. The Rules of Court on privileged communication likewise recognize the
privacy of certain information.

Clearly, the right to privacy is considered a fundamental right that must be protected from intrusion or
constraint. However, in Standard Chartered Bank v. Senate Committee on Banks, this Court underscored that
the right to privacy is not absolute.

HENCE, in Sabio v. Gordon, we have held that the right of the people to access information on matters of
public concern generally prevails over the right to privacy of ordinary financial transactions. We declared that
the right to privacy is not absolute where there is an overriding compelling state interest. Employing the
rational basis relationship test, as laid down in Morfe v. Mutuc, there is no infringement of the individual’s
right to privacy as the requirement to disclosure information is for a valid purpose…

Informational privacy is still developing in Philippine law and jurisprudence.

>> BUT of particular note is Leander v. Sweden… Leander a Swedish citizen, worked as a museum
technician at the Naval Museum, which was adjacent to a restricted military security zone. He was refused
employment when the personnel control resulted in an unfavorable outcome on the basis of information in the
secret police register. He claimed, among others, that this procedure of security control violated the right to
privacy, as nothing in his background would warrant his classification in the register as a security risk.

The ECHR held that the interference was justified on the following grounds: (a) the personnel control system
had a legitimate aim, which was the protection of national security, and (b) the Personnel Control Ordinance
gave the citizens adequate indication as to the scope and the manner of exercising discretion in the collection,
recording and release of information by the authorities.
Leander illustrates how the right to informational privacy, as a specific component of the right to
privacy, may yield to an overriding legitimate state interest.
It is clear that the issuance of A.O. 275 articulates a legitimate state aim, which is to investigate the existence
of PAGs with the ultimate objective of dismantling them permanently
Pursuant to the state interest of dismantling PAGs, as well as the foregoing powers and functions accorded to
the Zeñarosa Commission and the PNP, the latter collected information on individuals suspected of
maintaining PAGs, monitored them and counteracted their activities. One of those individuals is herein
petitioner Gamboa.

The forwarding of information by the PNP to the Zeñarosa Commission was not an unlawful act that violated or
threatened her right to privacy in life, liberty or security.

The PNP was rationally expected to forward and share intelligence regarding PAGs with the body specifically
created for the purpose of investigating the existence of these notorious groups.

Pending the enactment of legislation on data protection, this Court declines to make any further determination
as to the propriety of sharing information during specific stages of intelligence gathering. To do otherwise
would supplant the discretion of investigative bodies in the accomplishment of their functions, resulting in an
undue encroachment on their competence.

However, to accord the right to privacy with the kind of protection established in existing law and jurisprudence,
this Court nonetheless deems it necessary to caution these investigating entities that information-sharing must
observe strict confidentiality. Intelligence gathered must be released exclusively to the authorities empowered
to receive the relevant information. After all, inherent to the right to privacy is the freedom from "unwarranted
exploitation of one’s person or from intrusion into one’s private activities in such a way as to cause humiliation
to a person’s ordinary sensibilities."

In this case, the Court ruled that Gamboa was unable to prove through substantial evidence that her
inclusion in the list of individuals maintaining PAGs made her susceptible to harassment and to increased
police surveillance. In this regard, respondents sufficiently explained that the investigations conducted
against her were in relation to the criminal cases in which she was implicated. As public officials, they
enjoy the presumption of regularity, which she failed to overcome.
Accdg to the doctrine of balancing of interests: The state interest of dismantling PAGs far outweighs the
alleged intrusion on the private life of Gamboa, especially when the collection and forwarding by the PNP
of information against her was pursuant to a lawful mandate. Therefore, the privilege of the writ of habeas
data must be denied.
Petition for review is DENIED