Pandora's box re-opened
I was supposed to blog about the President's apology for her "lapse of judgment" talking with a Comelec official during the elections to "protect her votes". However, I was busy working and had not enough time to gather materials and write a fairly accurate opinion, at least from my layman's point of view, anyway. So, I had to pass on this "bloggable" phenomenon in Philippine politics. Last night, as I was watching the news, I heard that legal experts (that included Fr. Bernas, who was not present but submitted his opinion anyway) have presented their opinion on the matter of whether Congress should hear the tapes containing the conversations Gloria had with said Commissioner. Reading Sassy's entry on the matter gives an excellent opinion on the matter, The media proclaimed 'legal experts' say that the people's right to public information is paramount and, hence, there is no legal impediment to the playing of the tapes in the Congressional inquiry.
In the news last night, a Dean from a certain law school read his opinion in the hearing. (Neither the name nor the school stuck as I was doing something else. Multi tasking, hehe) If I remember correctly, (I couldn't find any copy hence couldn't verify it) his main contentions were that the tapes were no longer private since copies are all over the place, even citing ringtones in particular, and that since Gloria admitted it to be in her own voice, the right to privacy no longer holds. Maybe my interpretation/recollection of what he said was erroneous so I will welcome comments correcting my understanding.
In view of the fact that that was what I heard, and assuming that my interpretation is correct, then I am troubled by this turn of events. I have always believed that the Bill of Rights is sacred. Marvin Aceron another lawyer, puts it succinctly in his entry "Sun Tzu Advice No. 10: Time to use the "P" word" when he said The right to privacy has primacy
What is contained in Sec 3 of the Bill of Rights? It states that:
(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 evidence obtained in violation of this or the preceding section shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.
If the President of the Philippines could not be protected by this right, what can I, an ordinary individual, have to hold on to?
Obviously, the contentions of these legal experts (I am assuming that they were expressing the same opinion as the news did not say someone had a dissenting opinion) are founded on the seemingly majority perception that Gloria cheated in the last elections and that this can be proven by the tapes. Hence, it is of their opinion that it was imperative for Congress to hear them in making the public's right to information rule over the Bill of Rights in spite of the fact that the taped conversations might not even fall within the purview of what information the public has a right to know. I have forgotten which among the rules of statutory construction should apply but when there are enumerations in the law, other similar items not written may be included. Hmm, probably, noscitur a sociis or "the context rule" (Sassy help!) But even then, the one that can only be included are those within the same context as those enumerated.
Now, going back to the arguments. "The tapes are no longer private because of the proliferation of copies of the same everywhere." Now, that is dangerous. It implies that If I wanted to violate the privacy of, say a philandering husband, all I have to do is put a bug on his phone and innocently distribute hundreds of copies to every Juan and Juana I meet together with an original copy which I put on his wife's door. This will of course be admissible evidence as it is now public property. Oh, maybe that is not a good example as I am not sure if the law works that way. Maybe if I change the word husband to a public official, say a mayor. Maybe that would work within my context. Is this how we shall interpret it? We may be opening another Pandora's box, don't you think?
Gloria may have cheated in the elections one way or another. Thanks to my boss who gave me a copy of Dr. Hans Koechler's report which can also be found here I am reminded that there had been allegations of cheating in Mindanao even right after the elections. Of course, it is now common knowledge that most of these so called leaders cheat one way or another, but I say, let's fight it using legal ways. I would like to believe that we are a country governed by laws. Unfortunately, we are being lured to the easier way of emotionalism, drama and fanfare. What a circus Philippine politics has become.